Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 84, Issue 4, pp 361–373 | Cite as

Movement patterns and water quality preferences of juvenile bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) in a Florida estuary

  • Lori A. OrtegaEmail author
  • Michelle R. Heupel
  • Philip Van Beynen
  • Philip J. Motta


Acoustic telemetry was used to examine the size of daily activity space, small-scale movement patterns, and water quality preferences of juvenile bull sharks in the Caloosahatchee River, Florida. Movement pattern analysis included rate of movement, swimming depth, linearity, direction, tidal influence, diel pattern, and correlation with environmental variables. Manual tacking occurred before and after a large freshwater influx which divided the sharks into two groups based on movement patterns. The first group displayed increased rate of movement, distance traveled, and space utilization at night, and movements correlated with salinity, temperature, and dissolved oxygen. The second group had an increased rate of movement, distance traveled, and space utilization during the day, and movements correlated with temperature, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and pH. These juvenile bull sharks displayed distinct diel movement patterns that were influenced by physical factors, which may account for the distribution of this top-level predator in the Caloosahatchee River.


Carcharhinus leucas Habitat use Activity space Movement patterns Acoustic telemetry Manual tracking 



We thank Mote Marine Laboratory staff C. Simpfendorfer, B. Yeiser and A. Ubeda for their help with field efforts and data collection. We thank student volunteer interns M. Espinoza, K. Reiss, J. Price and A. Andyshak for field assistance. We would also like to express appreciation to C. Simpfendorfer, C. Wells, B. Blackwell, and M. Dachsteiner for their assistance with analysis, as well as anonymous reviewers for their manuscript comments. This research was funded in part by the South Florida Water Management District and the National Shark Research Consortium (NOAA Fisheries). L.A.O. was the recipient of the Mote Marine Laboratory and University of South Florida Graduate Fellowship in Elasmobranch Biology during the course of this work. Treatment of all animals in this study was conducted under ethical guidelines and approval for procedures was granted to M.R.H. by the MML IACUC Committee and to L.A.O. by the USF IACUC Committee under permit number 3020.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lori A. Ortega
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michelle R. Heupel
    • 2
    • 3
  • Philip Van Beynen
    • 1
  • Philip J. Motta
    • 4
  1. 1.Environmental Science and PolicyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Center for Shark ResearchMote Marine LaboratorySarasotaUSA
  3. 3.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  4. 4.Department of BiologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

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