, Volume 71, Issue 2, pp 135-142

Estimation of Shark Home Ranges using Passive Monitoring Techniques

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Abstract

We examined a population of blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus, within a coastal nursery area to define how individuals use the nursery habitat throughout the summer. We used a series of acoustic hydrophones to passively monitor the movement patterns of sharks for periods up to 167 days. We used passive monitoring data to calculate home range estimates using minimum convex polygon (MCP) and fixed kernel estimators. MCP calculated the extent of an individual's range. Kernel estimates provided information regarding the utilization of space within the home range including core area (50% kernel) and larger excursions outside the core area (95% kernel). Individuals within the nursery area typically used a consistently small core area. All sharks monitored in the study site underwent a home range expansion during the month of July, suggesting a synchronous population-level change in habitat use. This change in habitat use was reflected in all home range calculations. Passive monitoring revealed that young sharks remain within the nursery area for up to 6 months. The long-term use of this nursery area reflects its critical importance to young blacktip sharks.