Spiral valve parasites of blue and common thresher sharks as indicators of shark feeding behaviour and ecology

Antonella Preti* (Corresponding Author), Ken MacKenzie, Kate A Spivey, Leslie R Noble, Catherine S Jones, Ralph G Appy, Graham J Pierce

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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This study documented the parasite faunas of the spiral valves of blue sharks Prionace glauca (L. 1758) and common thresher sharks Alopias vulpinus (Bonnaterre, 1788) caught in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME) north of the Mexican border. The spiral valves of 18 blue and 19 thresher sharks caught in the CCLME from 2009 to 2013 were examined for parasites. Seven parasite taxa were found in blue sharks and nine in threshers. The tetraphyllidean cestode Anthobothrium sp. (78% prevalence) was the most common parasite in blue sharks, and the phyllobothriid cestode Paraorygmatobothrium sp. (90% prevalence) was the most common in threshers. An adult nematode of the genus Piscicapillaria was found in threshers for the first time and may be a new species. Adult individuals of Hysterothylacium sp. were found in both shark species. The adult acanthocephalan Rhadinorhynchus cololabis and remains of the parasitic copepod Pennella sp. - both parasites of Pacific saury, Cololabis saira - were found in the intestines of threshers, indicating recent feeding on saury. This study paves the way for a more comprehensive examination, including more samples and a wider variety of shark species, to provide a greater understanding of shark feeding behaviour and possibly provide information on shark population biology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-361
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Fish Biology
Issue number2
Early online date21 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Open Access via the Jisc Wiley agreement

This work would not have been possible without the assistance and samples provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Southwest Region Fishery Observer Program and the participating drift gillnet fishermen. A. Arevalo, E. Reed, H. Colley, J. Williams, J. Tamez and K. Tran assisted with spiral valve dissections and parasite sorting in the lab. D. Losey helped with library research. D. Sweetnam, A. Yau, A. Thompson, M. Craig, S. Stohs, G. DiNardo provided constructive critiques that helped improve the manuscript. This research was supported by the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


  • blue shark
  • California
  • spiral valve parasites
  • thresher shark


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