Distribution, occurrence, diet and growth of juvenile blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus, were examined based on specimens caught between 1995 and 2002 by the artisanal shark fishery from Los Roques Archipelago. Fishery monitoring revealed that C. limbatus was the species most frequently caught, accounting for 48.5% of the shark catch. Capture of neonate and juvenile sharks was concentrated in the central lagoon of the archipelago, indicating that this area corresponds to a nursery area for the species. Birth season was approximately from mid June to the end of August. Average length at birth was 63.5 cm TL, based on neonates with an open umbilical scar. The smallest mature male and female sharks measured 152 and 161 cm TL, respectively. Diet was composed of teleost fishes, with the most important prey being Eucinostomus argenteus (13.3 %IRI), Opisthonema oglinum (6.9 %IRI) and Gerres cinereus (5.5 %IRI). Monthly length frequencies revealed that juveniles remain within the nursery area for 14–16 months after birth, reaching a length of about 130 cm TL during this period. The growth of the juvenile population is characterized by a linear function, with sharks almost doubling their birth length during the first year of life. This growth was more rapid than the estimated rates reported from the Gulf of Mexico, western Florida and South Africa. The results suggest that growth rate is negatively correlated with latitude or positively correlated with temperature. The rapid growth shown by these juveniles will have positive implications for the recovery of the adult populations of this species.
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