DNA barcoding reveals the diversity of sharks in Guyana coastal markets

<div><p>ABSTRACT A fundamental challenge for both sustainable fisheries and biodiversity protection in the Neotropics is the accurate determination of species identity. The biodiversity of the coastal sharks of Guyana is poorly understood, but these species are subject to both artisanal fishing as well as harvesting by industrialized offshore fleets. To determine what species of sharks are frequently caught and consumed along the coastline of Guyana, we used DNA barcoding to identify market specimens. We sequenced the mitochondrial co1 gene for 132 samples collected from six markets, and compared our sequences to those available in the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD) and GenBank. Nearly 30% of the total sample diversity was represented by two species of Hammerhead Sharks (Sphyrna mokarran and S. lewini), both listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Other significant portions of the samples included Sharpnose Sharks (23% - Rhizoprionodon spp.), considered Vulnerable in Brazilian waters due to unregulated gillnet fisheries, and the Smalltail Shark (17% - Carcharhinus porosus). We found that barcoding provides efficient and accurate identification of market specimens in Guyana, making this study the first in over thirty years to address Guyana’s coastal shark biodiversity.</p></div>