Request for Shark Tissue Samples

I have been working on a long-term collaborative project with Mahmood Shivji, of Nova Southeastern University, concerning the molecular phylogeny of sharks.  We have good genetic representation of the more common carcharhinids and sphyrnids of the western North Atlantic and from Western Australia (the latter thanks to Rory McCauly).  To continue and extend this work, we request shark tissue samples from as many shark species and geographic regions as possible.  

Although we are grateful to receive samples from any shark species, presently, we are particularly interested in obtaining samples from the following carcharhinids and sphyrnids:

Carcharhinus altimus Bignose Shark
Carcharhinus amblyrhynchoides Graceful Shark
Carcharhinus borneensis Borneo Shark
Carcharhinus brachyurus Bronze Whaler
Carcharhinus cautus Nervous Shark
Carcharhinus dussumieri Whitecheek Shark
Carcharhinus fitzroyensis Creek Whaler
Carcharhinus galapagensis Galapagos Shark
Carcharhinus hemiodon Pondicherry Shark
Carcharhinus isodon Finetooth Shark
Carcharhinus leiodon Smooth Tooth Blacktip Shark
Carcharhinus macloti Hardnose Shark
Carcharhinus melanopterus Blackfin Reef Shark
Carcharhinus porosus Smalltail Shark
Carcharhinus sealei Blackspot Shark
Carcharhinus signatus Night Shark
Carcharhinus sorrah Spot-Tail Shark
Carcharhinus tilstoni Australian Blacktip Shark
Glyphis gangeticus Ganges Shark
Glyphis glyphis Speartooth Shark
Glyphis siamensis Irrawaddy River Shark
Isogomphodon oxyrhynchus Daggernose Shark
Lamiopsis temmincki Broadfin Shark
Loxodon macrorhinus Sliteye Shark
Nasolamia velox Whitenose Shark
Rhizoprionodon acutus Milk Shark
Rhizoprionodon lalandei Brazilian Sharpnose Shark
Rhizoprionodon longurio Pacific Sharpnose Shark
Rhizoprionodon oligolinx Grey Sharpnose Shark
Rhizoprionodon taylori Australian Sharpnose Shark
Scoliodon laticaudus Spadenose Shark
Triaenodon obesus Whitetip Reef Shark
Eusphyra blochii Winghead Shark
Sphyrna corona Mallethead Shark
Sphyrna media Scoophead Shark
Sphyrna tudes Golden Hammerhead


Protocol for Elasmobranch Tissue
Collection for Genetic Studies

The basic protocol is very straight forward. There are two very important steps to keep in mind:

1.      The species identity and other information (sex, length if available, and approximate geographic location of capture) must be recorded correctly. If the identity of the species is uncertain, please note that on the sample tube and on the data sheet accompanying the samples.

2.      It is absolutely critical that cross-contamination of tissues from one animal to another does not occur. The best way to ensure that cross-contamination does not occur is to use a new cutting tool (e.g. scalpel or razor blade) for each animal. The other option is to rinse and clean off the cutting tool (e.g. knife or scissors) between sampling each animal.

Sampling Steps:

1.      The best tissue sample is 1 or 2 pieces of fin (dorsal, pectoral, or pelvic) about the size of a thumbnail. A fin clip can be taken without sacrificing the animal. If the animal is to be sacrificed for other studies, then heart and muscle (in that order) are also good tissues for DNA. Fin is best.

2.      Place sampled tissue in vial provided and record species and sex - plus other data (capture location, length if available) in pencil on a piece of paper and slip that in the vial, too. Do not over-pack the vials with tissues: the preservative (either 95% reagent grade ethanol or a solution of EDTA, DMSO, NaCl) should be able to flow around the sample. If the sample is large, please cut it into smaller pieces to fit the vials.

3.      Please make sure the cap on each vial is closed tightly to prevent leaks during transportation.

4.      Vials with sample can be kept at room temperature (out of direct sunlight).

Supporting Photography:

If in doubt, however slightly, of a species identification, place a numbered or lettered card next to the specimen and photograph them together. Two views of each specimen are ideal:  A) complete lateral (side) view, and B) underside of head and pectoral fins. Write the corresponding number or letter onto the specimen data sheet and insert it into the vial with the tissue sample from that animal. This will facilitate identification of the source species later.


Send tissue samples and photographs to:

R. Aidan Martin
ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research
P.O. Box 48561
595 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC   V7X 1A3


ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research
Text and illustrations R. Aidan Martin
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