, Volume 149, Issue 2, pp 189-199
Date: 15 Dec 2005

Movement patterns of young Caribbean reef sharks, Carcharhinus perezi, at Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, Brazil: the potential of marine protected areas for conservation of a nursery ground

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Abstract

The movement patterns and long-term site-fidelity of primarily juvenile Caribbean reef sharks, Carcharhinus perezi, were investigated using tag-recapture and automated telemetry at an insular nursery area, the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, Brazil. Of the 143 externally tagged juvenile sharks (<110 cm), 22 (15.3%) were recaptured between 0 and 5 km from the site of tagging after 5–800 days at liberty, suggesting some site-fidelity in young individuals of this species. Site-fidelity and movement patterns of ten juvenile sharks ranging from 78 to 110 cm total length (TL) and one opportunistically captured adult female (224 cm TL) were also investigated for periods of up to 2 years with an array of automated telemetry receivers. Tagging and telemetry data from both inside and outside a marine protected area (MPA) show that shark abundance and activity is greatest along the part of the archipelago’s coastline least disturbed by human activity. Telemetry tracking also showed that juvenile reef sharks demonstrated a high degree of site-fidelity and occupied specific locations along the coast throughout the year, with some evidence of an increase in activity space with ontogeny. Sharks appeared to range more widely at night and there were no seasonal variations in habitat use. Our results suggest that MPAs may be a useful conservation tool to protect young C. perezi and potentially other reef-dwelling carcharhinid sharks during their early life history.

Communicated by O. Kinne, Oldendorf/Luhe