, Volume 147, Issue 5, pp 1239-1249
Date: 21 Jun 2005

Quantitative analysis of aggregation behavior in juvenile blacktip sharks

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Abstract

Aggregation patterns of a population of juvenile blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus) within a summer nursery area were examined over a period of 3 years using an array of acoustic monitors. Individually coded acoustic tags were surgically implanted into 33–40 neonate sharks each year from 2000 to 2002 and their presence monitored continuously by the acoustic array. Data from the acoustic monitors was processed to estimate the center of activity location of each tagged shark every 30 min. Nearest neighbor analysis of shark locations revealed that sharks aggregated within the nursery in all years of the study. Sharks were aggregated most commonly during the early and late summer months (June, October and November) and became less common through the middle of the study period each year (July–September). Temporal periodicity within the data revealed a strong diel pattern with sharks aggregating during the day and dispersing at night, except in June when aggregations often persisted through the night. Aggregations were generally restricted to the mid and northern sections of the study site. Reasons for aggregations may include predator avoidance or improved feeding efficiency.

Communicated by P. W. Sammarco, Chauvin