Advertisement

Coral Reefs

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 569–577 | Cite as

Variation in depth of whitetip reef sharks: does provisioning ecotourism change their behaviour?

  • Richard Fitzpatrick
  • Kátya G. Abrantes
  • Jamie Seymour
  • Adam Barnett
Report

Abstract

In the dive tourism industry, shark provisioning has become increasingly popular in many places around the world. It is therefore important to determine the impacts that provisioning may have on shark behaviour. In this study, eight adult whitetip reef sharks Triaenodon obesus were tagged with time-depth recorders at Osprey Reef in the Coral Sea, Australia. Tags collected time and depth data every 30 s. The absolute change in depth over 5-min blocks was considered as a proxy for vertical activity level. Daily variations in vertical activity levels were analysed to determine the effects of time of day on whitetip reef shark behaviour. This was done for days when dive boats were absent from the area, and for days when dive boats were present, conducting shark provisioning. Vertical activity levels varied between day and night, and with the presence of boats. In natural conditions (no boats present), sharks remained at more constant depths during the day, while at night animals continuously moved up and down the water column, showing that whitetip reef sharks are nocturnally active. When boats were present, however, there were also long periods of vertical activity during the day. If resting periods during the day are important for energy budgets, then shark provisioning may affect their health. So, if this behaviour alteration occurs frequently, e.g., daily, this has the potential to have significant negative effects on the animals’ metabolic rates, net energy gain and overall health, reproduction and fitness.

Keywords

Triaenodon obesus Ecotourism Shark feeds Depth use Disturbance Behavioural response Provisioning Sharks 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank the staff of Digital Dimensions, John Rumney from Eye to Eye Marine Encounters, Mike Ball Dive Expeditions and the crew of Undersea Explorer for help with data acquisition. Funding was supplied by Digital Dimensions, Australia, through the production of documentaries related to shark research. Research was conducted under Australian Fisheries Management Authority Scientific Permit #901193.

References

  1. Bejder L, Samuels A, Whitehead H, Gales N, Mann J, Connor R, Heithaus M, Watson-Capps J, Flaherty C, Krutzen M (2006) Decline in relative abundance of bottlenose dolphins exposed to long-term disturbance. Conserv Biol 20:1791–1798CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Brunnschweiler JM, Earle JL (2006) A contribution to marine life conservation efforts in the South Pacific: The Shark Reef Marine Reserve, Fiji. Cybium 30:133–139Google Scholar
  3. Brunnschweiler JM (2010) The shark reef marine reserve: a marine tourism project in Fiji involving local communities. J Sustain Tour 18:29–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Burger J, Niles L, Clark KE (1997) Importance of beach, mudflat and marsh habitats to migrant shorebirds on Delaware Bay. Biol Conserv 79:283–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chatfield C (1996) The analysis of time series—An introduction, 5th edn. Chapman and Hall, London, UKGoogle Scholar
  6. Clua E, Buray N, Legendre P, Mourier J, Planes S (2010) Behavioural response of sicklefin lemon sharks Negaprion acutidens to underwater feeding for ecotourism purposes. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 414:257–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Corkeron PJ (2004) Whale watching, iconography, and marine conservation. Conserv Biol 18:847–849CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. De’ath G, Fabricius KE (2000) Classification and Regression Trees: a powerful yet simple technique for ecological data analysis. Ecology 81:3178–3192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dicken ML, Hosking SG (2009) Socio-economic aspects of the tiger shark diving industry within the Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area, South Africa. Afr J Mar Sci 31:227–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dobson J (2006) Sharks, wildlife tourism, and state regulation. Tourism Mar Environ 3:15–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Duchesne M, Cote SD, Barrette C (2000) Responses of woodland caribou to winter ecotourism in the Charlevoix Biosphere Reserve, Canada. Biol Conserv 96:311–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Economists at Large, Associates (2009) The economic value of dive tourism in the Coral Sea and cost estimates for marine protected area establishment. WWF, Australia 35ppGoogle Scholar
  13. Galicia E, Baldassarre GA (1997) Effects of motorized tour boats on the behaviour of nonbreeding American flamingos in Yucatan, Mexico. Conserv Biol 11:1159–1165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gaspar C, Chateau O, Galzin R (2008) Feeding sites frequentation by the pink whipray Himantura fai in Moorea (French Polynesia) as determined by acoustic telemetry. Cybium 32:153–164Google Scholar
  15. Heupel MR, Simpfendorfer C (2005) Quantitative analysis of aggregation behaviour in juvenile blacktip sharks. Mar Biol 147:1239–1249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jimenez C (1997) Coral colony fragmentation by whitetip reef sharks at Coiba Island National Park, Panama. Rev Biol Trop 45:698–700Google Scholar
  17. Kerley LL, Goodrich JM, Miquelle DG, Smirnov EN, Quigley HB, Hornocker NG (2002) Effects of roads and human disturbance on Amur tigers. Conserv Biol 16:97–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Klimley AP, Nelson DR (1984) Diel movement patterns of the scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini) in relation to El Bajo Espiritu Santo: a refuging central social system. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 15:45–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Laroche RK, Kock AA, Dill LM, Oosthuizen WH (2007) Effects of provisioning ecotourism activity on the behaviour of white sharks Carcharodon carcharias. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 338:199–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Last PR, Stevens JD (2009) Sharks and rays of Australia, 2nd edn. CSIRO Publishing, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  21. Lusseau D (2004) The hidden cost of tourism: Detecting long-term effects of tourism using behavioral information. Ecol Soc 9:2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Meyer CG, Dale JD, Papastamatiou YP, Whitney NM, Holland KN (2009) Seasonal cycles and long-term trends in abundance and species composition of sharks associated with cage diving ecotourism activities in Hawaii. Environ Conserv 36:104–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nelson DR, Johnson RH (1980) Behaviour of the reef sharks of Rangiroa, French Polynesia. Nat Geogr Soc 12:479–499Google Scholar
  24. Randall JE (1977) Contribution to the biology of the whitetip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus). Pac Sci 31:143–164Google Scholar
  25. Ronconi RA, St Clair CC (2002) Management options to reduce boat disturbance on foraging black guillemots (Cepphus grylle) in the Bay of Fundy. Biol Conserv 108:265–271CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Semeniuk CAD, Rothley KD (2008) Costs of group-living for a normally solitary forager: effects of provisioning tourism on southern stingrays Dasyatis americana. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 357:271–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sims DW, Nash JP, Morritt D (2001) Movements and activity of male and female dogfish in a tidal sea lough: alternative behavioural strategies and apparent sexual segregation. Mar Biol 139:1165–1175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sims DW, Wearmouth VJ, Southall EJ, Hill JM, Moore P, Rawlinson K, Hutchinson N, Budd GC, Righton D, Metcalfe JD, Nash JP, Morritt D (2006) Hunt warm, rest cool: bioenergetic strategy underlying diel vertical migration of a benthic shark. J Anim Ecol 75:176–190CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Standora E, Nelson DR (1977) A telemetric study of the behaviour of free swimming Pacific angel sharks, Squatina californica. Bull South Calif Acad Sci 76:194–201Google Scholar
  30. Stephens DW, Krebs JR (1986) Foraging theory. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  31. Stockwell CA (1991) Behavioral reactions of desert bighorn sheep to avian scavengers. J Zool 225:563–566CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sundstrom LF, Gruber SH, Clermont SM, Correia JoPS, de Marignac JRC, Morrissey JF, Lowrance CR, Thomassen L, Oliveira MT (2001) Review of elasmobranch behavioural studies using ultrasonic telemetry with special reference to the lemon shark, Negaprion brevirostris, around Bimini Islands, Bahamas. Environ Biol Fish 60:225–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Topelko KN, Dearden P (2005) The shark watching industry and its potential contribution to shark conservation. J Ecotourism 4:108–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. White D, Kendall KC, Picton HD (1999) Potential energetic effects of mountain climbers on foraging grizzly bears. Wildl Soc Bull 27:146–151Google Scholar
  35. Whitney NM, Papastamatiou YP, Holland KN, Lowe CG (2007) Use of an acceleration data logger to measure diel activity patterns in captive whitetip reef sharks, Triaenodon obesus. Aquat Living Resour 20:299–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Williams R, Lusseau D, Hammond PS (2006) Estimating relative energetic costs of human disturbance to killer whales (Orcinus orca). Biol Conserv 133:301–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Fitzpatrick
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kátya G. Abrantes
    • 3
  • Jamie Seymour
    • 1
  • Adam Barnett
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Marine and Tropical BiologyJames Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia
  2. 2.Reef ChannelTownsvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Coastal and Estuary Ecosystems, School of Marine and Tropical BiologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  4. 4.Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute, Marine Research LaboratoriesUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

Personalised recommendations