Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 December 2016
The population composition and aspects of the reproductive biology of 452 blackmouth catsharks, Galeus melastomus were investigated. The sharks were incidentally caught off the North-Western Aegean, the Eastern Corinthian and Northern Euboean Gulfs by commercial bottom trawlers and longlines at depths between 200 and 500 m. The overall sex ratio (1:1.1 females:males) was not different from the theoretical unit (1:1). No differences in the sex ratios were detected among seasons, areas or depth strata. Significant differences in the population structure regarding different maturity stage proportions at different seasons, fishing areas and depths, were observed. The sampled population mainly consisted of immature catsharks (77%), predominantly trawled off the NW Aegean and Corinthian Gulf during winter and autumn. Fifteen per cent of the samples, mainly captured in spring and summer off the N Euboean Gulf, were mature. Eight per cent of the specimens was found to be maturing. Higher frequencies of heavier female individuals were observed. Based on the maturation ogives and the total lengths (TL) for each sex, using logistic regression which presented sex-related differences, male Galeus melastomus achieved maturity at 433.6 mm while females at 483.5 mm. The number of egg capsules in the oviducts spanned from 1–12 per female with sizes varying from 38 × 14 mm to 55 × 20 mm. This is the first study investigating the demography and aspects of Galeus melastomus reproduction in the Eastern Mediterranean.