Marine Biology

, Volume 152, Issue 4, pp 877–894 | Cite as

Migration and habitat of white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) in the eastern Pacific Ocean

  • Kevin C. Weng
  • Andre M. Boustany
  • Peter Pyle
  • Scot D. Anderson
  • Adam Brown
  • Barbara A. BlockEmail author
Research Article


Satellite telemetry studies of 20 adult and sub-adult white sharks (360–530 cm estimated total length (TL)) in the eastern North Pacific during 1999–2005 revealed long distance seasonal migrations from the coast of California to an offshore focal area 2,500 km west of the Baja Peninsula, as well as the Hawaii Islands. Three tags were recovered allowing detailed behavioral analyses, including one shark’s migration cycle from the coast to the offshore focal area and back. While near pinniped rookeries in autumn and winter, sharks avoided the surface and used water to 50 m depth, consistent with a silhouette-based hunting strategy. Offshore migrations were initiated during November–March and followed periods of decreasing pinniped abundance. Migrations were highly directed, taking 23 ± 5 days to reach the offshore focal area along similar paths among sharks and years, defining a migration corridor. Sharks exhibited a broad depth distribution (0–644 m) in the offshore focal area, and remained there for up to 167 days during spring and summer, though primary productivity and fishery data suggest that forage resources are scarcer there than in other regions of the eastern North Pacific. Archival data from one shark revealed intensive oscillatory movements while in the offshore focal area, a behavior that may be related to foraging or mating. Sharks traveling to Hawaii remained near the islands up to 122 days, potentially feeding on pelagic fishes and marine mammals that concentrate around the islands.


Mixed Layer Depth Bluefin Tuna Elephant Seal White Shark Humpback Whale 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by grants from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation, and by funding for the Tagging of Pacific Pelagics Program from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. We thank C. Farwell, J. O’Sullivan, J. Ganong, A. Swithenbank, R. Matteson, M. Castleton, S. Teo, R. Schallert, C. Perle, S. Jorgensen, G. Shillinger, G. Strout, D. Kohrs, B. Syderman, R. Ridge, C. Wisner, T. O’Leary, R. Burnett, P. Capitolo, W. Richardson, D. Spight, C. Garcia, G. Saxton and T. Keswick. The study was conducted under permits from the California Department of Fish and Game and the US Fish and Wildlife Service; and performed in accordance with the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Stanford University (protocol 6957-6).

Supplementary material

227_2007_739_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.5 mb)
Migration and habitat of white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) in the eastern Pacific Ocean


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin C. Weng
    • 1
    • 2
  • Andre M. Boustany
    • 1
    • 3
  • Peter Pyle
    • 4
    • 5
  • Scot D. Anderson
    • 6
  • Adam Brown
    • 4
  • Barbara A. Block
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Tuna Research and Conservation Center, Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford UniversityPacific GroveUSA
  2. 2.School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  3. 3.Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth SciencesDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  4. 4.PRBO Conservation SciencePetalumaUSA
  5. 5.Institute for Bird PopulationsPoint Reyes StationUSA
  6. 6.InvernessUSA

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