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Zoology Publications from Victoria University of Wellington—Nos. 54 to 57

Liver Oil of C. barbifer

page 9

Liver Oil of C. barbifer

A sample of liver oil from our 922 mm female C. barbifer, together with comparative samples from New Zealand Squalus acanthias and S. blainvillei, were analysed for squalene and vitamin A by Dr. R. W. Lewis at the Food Technology Division, C.S.I.R.O., Sydney. The C. barbifer oil contained 0.81% squalene; hence if one can assume that the liver had a lipid content of 50%, then squalene was present at a level of about 4000 ppm relative to tissue weight. By comparison the S. acanthias and S. blainvillei contained only 159 ppm and 51 ppm respectively of squalene relative to tissue weight.

The C. barbifer liver oil contained no vitamin A, S. blainvillei a small amount, and S. acanthias a large amount. Dr. Lewis suggests (pers. comm.) that "it may be possible to distinguish between sharks living in the photic zone, or just below it, and deep-water species by the vitamin A content of the liver oil. This would indicate trophic distance from plants". This suggestion is supported by the vitamin A content and depth-ranges of the three species, C. barbifer being a deep-water species, S. blainvillei living on the deep shelf and shelf edge, and S. acanthias ranging over the relatively shallow shelf.