Abstract

Fifty lemon sharks, Negaprion brevirostris, were captured in a shallow, mangrove-fringed shark nursery at Bimini, Bahamas and examined for the presence of skin-dwelling ectoparasitic monogenoids (Monogenoidea). Sixteen sharks were infected by Dermophthirius nigrellii (Microbothriidae); the youngest host was estimated to be 3- to 4-wk-old. Infection prevalence, mean intensity, and median intensity (0.32, 2.63, and 2.0, respectively, for all sharks) were not significantly different between neonates (estimated ages 3- to 10-wk-old) and non-neonatal juveniles (estimated ages 1- to 4-yr-old), suggesting that soon after parturition lemon sharks acquire infection levels of D. nigrellii matching those of juvenile conspecifics. Monogenoids were only found on the trailing portion of the first and second dorsal fins and upper lobe of the caudal fin. The prevalence of D. nigrellii was highest on the first dorsal fin; however, the mean and median intensities of D. nigrellii were similar between fins in all but 1 case. These results raise important husbandry implications regarding the practice of preferentially seeking neonatal and other small lemon sharks for captivity.

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