, Volume 70, Issue 2, pp 133-143

Insights into Young of the Year White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias, Behavior in the Southern California Bight

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Abstract

A young of the year female white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, was tagged with a pop-up satellite archival tag off Southern California in early June of 2000. The tag was recovered after 28 days, and records of temperature, depth and light intensity were extracted. Depth and temperature records indicate a number of interesting behaviors, including a strong diurnal pattern. At night the shark remained in the top 50 m, often making shallow repetitive vertical excursions. Most dives below the mixed layer were observed during the day, 91% of which occurred from 05:00 to 21:00 h, with depths extending to 240 m. Many of the dives exhibited secondary vertical movements that were consistent with the shark swimming at the bottom (at depths from 9 to 165 m) where it was most likely foraging. The white shark experienced dramatic and rapid changes in temperature, and demonstrated a considerable tolerance for cold waters. Temperatures ranged from 9°C to 22°C, and although 89% of the total time was spent in waters 16–22°C, on some days the small shark spent as much as 32% of the time in 12°C waters. The deep dives into cold waters separate the white sharks from mako sharks, which share the California Bight nursery ground but appear to remain primarily in the mixed layer and thermocline. Movement information (derived from light-based geolocation, bottom depths and sea surface temperatures) indicated that the white shark spent the 28 days in the Southern California Bight, possibly moving as far south as San Diego, California. While the abundance and diversity of prey, warm water and separation from adults make this region an ideal nursery ground, the potential for interaction with the local fisheries should be examined.