, Volume 60, Issue 1-3, pp 225-250

Review of Elasmobranch Behavioral Studies Using Ultrasonic Telemetry with Special Reference to the Lemon Shark, Negaprion Brevirostris, Around Bimini Islands, Bahamas

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A review of past behavioral ultrasonic telemetry studies of sharks and rays is presented together with previously unpublished material on the behavior of the lemon shark, Negaprion brevirostris, around the Bimini Islands, Bahamas. The review, focusing on movement behaviors of 20 shark and three ray species, reveals that elasmobranchs exhibit a variety of temporal and spatial patterns in terms of rates-of-movement and vertical as well as horizontal migrations. The lack of an apparent pattern in a few species is probably attributable to the scarcity of tracking data. Movements are probably governed by several factors, some still not studied, but data show that food, water temperature, bottom type, and magnetic gradient play major roles in a shark's decision of where and when to swim. A few species exhibit differences in behavior between groups of sharks within the same geographical area. This interesting finding warrants further research to evaluate the causes of these apparent differences and whether these groups constitute different subpopulations of the same species. The lack of telemetry data on batoids and some orders of sharks must be addressed before we can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the behavior of elasmobranch fishes. Previously unpublished data from 47 smaller and 38 larger juvenile lemon sharks, collected over the decade 1988–1998, provide new results on movement patterns, habitat selection, activity rhythms, swimming speed, rate-of-movement, and homing behavior. From these results we conclude that the lemon shark is an active predator with a strong, apparently innate homing mechanism. This species shows ontogenetic differences in habitat selection and behavior, as well as differences in movements between groups of individuals within the same area. We suggest three hypotheses for future research on related topics that will help to understand the enigmatic behavior of sharks.