Marine Biology

, Volume 149, Issue 2, pp 189–199 | Cite as

Movement patterns of young Caribbean reef sharks, Carcharhinus perezi, at Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, Brazil: the potential of marine protected areas for conservation of a nursery ground

  • Ricardo C. GarlaEmail author
  • Demian D. Chapman
  • Bradley M. Wetherbee
  • Mahmood Shivji
Research Article


The movement patterns and long-term site-fidelity of primarily juvenile Caribbean reef sharks, Carcharhinus perezi, were investigated using tag-recapture and automated telemetry at an insular nursery area, the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, Brazil. Of the 143 externally tagged juvenile sharks (<110 cm), 22 (15.3%) were recaptured between 0 and 5 km from the site of tagging after 5–800 days at liberty, suggesting some site-fidelity in young individuals of this species. Site-fidelity and movement patterns of ten juvenile sharks ranging from 78 to 110 cm total length (TL) and one opportunistically captured adult female (224 cm TL) were also investigated for periods of up to 2 years with an array of automated telemetry receivers. Tagging and telemetry data from both inside and outside a marine protected area (MPA) show that shark abundance and activity is greatest along the part of the archipelago’s coastline least disturbed by human activity. Telemetry tracking also showed that juvenile reef sharks demonstrated a high degree of site-fidelity and occupied specific locations along the coast throughout the year, with some evidence of an increase in activity space with ontogeny. Sharks appeared to range more widely at night and there were no seasonal variations in habitat use. Our results suggest that MPAs may be a useful conservation tool to protect young C. perezi and potentially other reef-dwelling carcharhinid sharks during their early life history.


Marine Protected Area Shark Species Environmental Protection Area Detection Record Insular Shelf 
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 study formed part of the PhD research of R.C. Garla who thanks his advisor, A.F. Amorim, for general advice and valuable suggestions. This research collaboration was supported by fellowships provided by São Paulo’s Research Support Foundation (FAPESP), Fundação O Boticário de Proteção à Natureza/J.D. & C.T. McArthur Foundation and International Society for Reef Studies (to RG), Wildlife Conservation Society (to RG and DC) and the National Science Foundation (to DC). The Brazilian Environmental Agency (IBAMA) and the General Administration of the State District of Fernando de Noronha provided research permits. This international collaboration was inspired by S. Gruber, E. Pikitch and R. Rosa. Finally, we thank L. Veras for initial logistic support, O.J. Souza for lending his boat for shark fishing in 2000 and many field volunteers including D. Abercrombie, B. Victor, C.L.B. Francini, R. Coluchi, N.P. Lopes, R.H.A. Freitas, L.F. Mendes and T. Guaratini, who made this project possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ricardo C. Garla
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Demian D. Chapman
    • 3
  • Bradley M. Wetherbee
    • 4
  • Mahmood Shivji
    • 3
  1. 1.Centro de Biociências, Departamento de Botânica, Ecologia e ZoologiaUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do NorteNatalBrasil
  2. 2.ONG Oceânica—Pesquisa, Educação e Conservação, Rua Luis Bernardo e SilvaParnamirimBrasil
  3. 3.Guy Harvey Research Institute and Oceanographic CenterNova Southeastern UniversityDania BeachUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA

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