Characterization of Blacktip Shark Feeding Apparatus Injuries Due to Hook Ripping
During sport fishing for bottom-dwelling fish, non-targeted sharks occasionally take a bait, requiring hook removal from the shark before release. It is an occasional practice to rip hooks out of the shark’s mouth instead of bringing the shark to the surface and properly removing the hook. “Hook ripping” can severely injure the feeding apparatus of the shark, especially along the lower jaw and joint area. In severe cases, it may eliminate a shark’s ability to feed, leading to the death of the shark. At one site in South Africa, at least 30% of the population of blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus lismbatus, were observed to have injuries to their mouths consistent with hook ripping, indicating that this practice is a considerable concern for the survival of resident sharks in this area. The severities of the wounds were evaluated from the perspective of remaining feeding capabilities, and suggestions made on how to reduce the damage of hook ripping.