This is the fourth in the FAO series of worldwide annotated and illustrated catalogues of major groups of organisms that enter marine fisheries. It is based on FAO's Species Catalogue Vol.4 Sharks of the World Part 1 and 2 by Leonard J.V. Compagno.
The present volume includes 344 shark species belonging to 8 orders and 31 families.
It provides a comprehensive and illustrated key to all orders and families of sharks, with a glossary of technical terms and measurements.
Within each family are given individual accounts of species, which include drawings, scientific and vernacular names, information on habitat, biology and fisheries, and a distribution map; for most families there is also a key to genera. The work is fully indexed and there is ample reference to pertinent literature.
The present publication, prepared under the UNDP/FAO Project for the Survey and Identification of World-Marine Fish Resources (GLO/82/001), is the fourth worldwide species catalogue issued within the FAO Fisheries Synopses series.
Work on this catalogue was initiated by the author many years ago with the preparation of a simple list of shark species including only most elementary information such as scientific synonymies, geographical distributions, sizes, etc., preceded by an illustrated key to shark families. However, with the evolvement of a more ambitious format for the series, and parallel to the preparation of the volumes on scombrids and cephalopods, it became necessary to expand the original manuscript very substantially, a task which the author accomplished with his usual enthousiasm and thoroughness, in spite of the difficult conditions under which he had to work during the past years .
The work was facilitated by the author's involvement in several regional sets of FAO Species Identification Sheets for Fishery Purposes, e.g. the Western Central Atlantic, Eastern Central Atlantic and Western Indian Ocean, but the numerous gaps in information on species from the Indo-Pacific region could not have been filled without the author's recent extensive field work in that area, which was made possible thanks to the support of several institutions both within and outside the USA, coordinated by the American Elasmobranch Society.
In the final stages of the work, the author could count on the generous assistance of the J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology, Grahamstown, South Africa.
The indexes of scientific and common international FAO species names and of local species names were prepared in collaboration with FAO's Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Service.
Illustrations were adapted and redrawn by a wide variety of sources, especially from Okutani (1980).