Tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) movement patterns and habitat use determined by satellite tagging in eastern Australian waters
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- Holmes, B.J., Pepperell, J.G., Griffiths, S.P. et al. Mar Biol (2014) 161: 2645. doi:10.1007/s00227-014-2536-1
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Partial migration is considered ubiquitous among vertebrates, but little is known about the movements of oceanodromous apex predators such as sharks, particularly at their range extents. PAT-Mk10 and SPOT5 electronic tags were used to investigate tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) spatial dynamics, site fidelity and habitat use off eastern Australia between April 2007 and May 2013. Of the 18 tags deployed, 15 recorded information on depth and/or temperature, and horizontal movements. Tracking times ranged between four and 408 days, with two recovered pop-up archival tags allowing 63 days of high-resolution archived data to be analysed. Overall mean proportions of time-at-depth revealed that G. cuvier spent the majority of time-at-depths of <20 m, but undertook dives as deep as 920 m. Tagged sharks occupied ambient water temperatures from 29.5 °C at the surface to 5.9 °C at depth. Deep dives (>500 m) occurred mostly around dawn and dusk, but no definitive daily dive patterns were observed. Horizontal movements were characterised by combinations of resident and transient behaviour that coincided with seasonal changes in water temperature. While the majority of movement activity was focused around continental slope waters, large-scale migration was evident with one individual moving from offshore Sydney, Australia, to New Caledonia (c. 1,800 km) in 48 days. Periods of tiger shark residency outside of Australia’s fisheries management zones highlight the potential vulnerability of the species to unregulated fisheries and the importance of cross-jurisdictional arrangements for species’ management and conservation.