An inventory of Bramble sharks Echinorhinus brucus (Bonnaterre, 1788) (Elasmobranchii, Echinorhinidae) in natural history collections worldwide for conservation status assessment

Frederik H. MOLLEN & Samuel P. IGLÉSIAS

en Zoosystema 45 (22) - Pages 653-748

Published on 23 November 2023

Many elasmobranch populations were already depleted well before fishery surveys had even started, which means historical investigations are needed to reveal their ignored declines. This is probably the case for the Bramble shark Echinorhinus brucus (Bonnaterre, 1788) whose populations in Europe are suspected of having decreased significantly. In order to document this data deficiency, an inventory of Bramble shark material that had been preserved in natural history collections, was conducted in the period 2014-2022. A total of 128 collections were contacted around the world, and additional sources of information were traced and consulted (e.g. collection labels, museum registers, digital databases, index cards, pictures, manuscripts and publications). This resulted in a list of 234 entries, subsequently assigned to 169 individual Bramble sharks. These exhibits are, or had been deposited in 80 different collections, spread over 22 countries, whereas the other 48 collections yielded no results. At least 40 entries are presumed lost, so that fewer than 200 entries have been preserved to date, some of them in bad condition. Due to their historic and scientific importance, extensive efforts to preserve these specimens are more than justified. A significant number of 64 individuals, representing more than 37% of all specimens that were recorded in this survey, have never been published, and are reported here for the first time. Associated geographical data and collection dates are present for nearly all specimens. These ‘new historical records’ can add significantly to our knowledge of the Bramble sharks’ relative abundance and geographical distribution in time. These data will be included in the ongoing Bramble shark Cold Case, a project that will document its suspected decline, and to implement appropriate conservation measures for this iconic, little-known and endangered shark species.


Spinous shark, endangered species, historical ecology, data mining, museum, voucher

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