Marine Biology

, Volume 150, Issue 2, pp 161–172 | Cite as

Movements and swimming behaviour of white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) in Australian waters

  • B. D. BruceEmail author
  • J. D. Stevens
  • H. Malcolm
Research Article


We used a combination of satellite telemetry, archival and conventional tags to show that white sharks made broad-scale movements consistent with mixing of the population across their entire Australasian range. The capture of one of these sharks in New Zealand, some 3,550 km from the point of tagging in South Australia, provides further confirmation that white sharks sometimes move into open ocean waters and cross deep ocean basins. However, most movements were confined to shelf waters, generally in areas of less than 100 m depth and in some cases into waters of less than 5 m depth. Sharks showed considerable plasticity in swimming patterns, which included many of the behaviours reported for other species. One of the archival-tagged sharks showed separate periods of distinct swimming behaviour as it moved into different habitats and travelled between them. The changes in swimming behaviour were abrupt and suggested rapid switching of hunting strategies for different prey types in these habitats. All tracked sharks showed both prolonged periods of directional swimming in coastal waters at swimming speeds of 2–3 km h−1 as well as temporary residency in particular regions. Movements of tagged white sharks, together with data from shark control programs and bycatch records, suggest a seasonal movement northward along the east coast of Australia during the autumn–winter months and south in spring–early summer. The consistency of paths taken by white sharks in Australian waters suggests that they may follow common routes or “highways” in some areas. If so, identifying such areas may assist in reducing interactions with fishing operations and thus reduce bycatch.


Swimming Speed Swimming Behaviour White Shark Whale Shark Blue Shark 
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We thank I. Helmond, D. McLaughlin, M. Sherlock, G. West, J. Dunn and C. Macaulay (CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research); K. Rodda and D. Short (South Australian Research and Development Institute); R. Czabayski (Calypso Star Charters, Port Lincoln); N. Blunden and K. Burdett (‘Sea-Pride’); Thomas Horton and Associates, Melbourne Aquarium and Discovery Channel; K. Thompson and D. Reid (New South Wales Fisheries); M. Armstrong and S. Williams (Environment Australia). K. Holland (University of Hawaii) and M. Francis (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand) provided helpful suggestions on earlier versions of the manuscript. The primary components of this study were funded under the Australian Government’s Natural Heritage Trust through Environment Australia’s Marine Species Protection Program. The capture and tagging of sharks was carried out under permits from State and Federal Agencies and Animal Ethics Committee approvals.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric ResearchHobartAustralia
  2. 2.Solitary Islands Marine ParkCoffs HarbourAustralia

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