Marine Biology

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

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

Research Article

Abstract

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.

References

  1. Blaylock RA (1990) Effects of external biotelemetry transmitters on behaviour of the cownose ray, Rhinoptera bonasus (Mitchill 1815). J Exp Biol Ecol 141:213–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bonfil R, Meyer M, Scholl MC, Johnson R, O’Brien S, Oosthuizen H, Swanson S, Kotze D, Paterson M (2005) Transoceanic migration, spatial dynamics, and population linkages of white sharks. Science 310:100–103PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boustany AM, Davis SF, Pyle P, Anderson SD, Le Boeuf BJ, Block BA (2002) Expanded niche for white sharks. Nature 415:35–36PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bruce BD (1992) Preliminary observations on the biology of the white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, in South Australian waters. In: Pepperell JG (ed) Sharks: biology and fisheries. Aust J Mar Freshwater Res 43:1–11Google Scholar
  5. Bruce BD (2006) The biology and ecology of the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). In: Camhi M, Pikitch EK (eds) Sharks of the open ocean. Blackwell, Oxford (in press)Google Scholar
  6. Carey FG, Scharold JV (1990) Movements of blue sharks (Prionace glauca) in depth and course. Mar Biol 106:329–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carey FG, Kanwisher JW, Brazier O, Gabrielson G, Casey JG, Pratt HL (1982) Temperature and activities of a white shark, Carcharodon carcharias. Copeia 2:254–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cliff G, Van Der Elst RP, Govender A, Witthuhn TK, Bullen EM (1996) First estimates of mortality and population size of white sharks on the South African coast. In: Klimley AP, Ainley DG (eds) Great white sharks. The biology of Carcharodon carcharias. Academic, San Diego, pp 393–400Google Scholar
  9. Eckert SA, Stewart BS (2001) Telemetry and satellite tracking of whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico, and the North Pacific Ocean. Env Biol Fish 60:299–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Goldman KJ, Anderson SD (1999) Space utilization and swimming depth of white sharks, Carcharodon carcharias, at the South Farallon Islands, central California. Env Biol Fish 56:351–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gunn JS, Stevens JD, Davis TLO, Norman BM (1999) Observations on the short term movements and behaviour of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Mar Biol 135:553–559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gunn JS, Polacheck T, Davis TLO, Sherlock M, Betlehem A (1994) The development and use of archival tags for studying the migration, behaviour and physiology of southern bluefin tuna, with an assessment of the potential for transfer of the technology to groundfish research. In: ICES C.M. mini symposium on fish migration, pp 1–22Google Scholar
  13. Hill RD, Braun MJ (2001) Geolocation by light level. The next step: latitude. In: Sibert JR, Neilsen JL (eds) Proceedings of the symposium on tagging and tracking marine fish with electronic devices, 7–11 February 2000, East-West Centre, University of Hawaiian. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 315–330Google Scholar
  14. Holland KN, Wetherbee BM, Lowe CG, Meyer CG (1999) Movements of tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) in coastal Hawaiian waters. Mar Biol 134:665–673CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Holts DB, Bedford DW (1993) Horizontal and vertical movements of the shortfin mako shark, Isurus oxyrinchus, in the southern California Bight. Aust J Mar Freshwater Res 44:901–909CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kailola PJ, Williams MJ, Stewart PC, Reichelt RE, McNee A and Grieve C (1993) Australian fisheries resources. Bureau of Resource Sciences and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. Canberra Australia. 422 ppGoogle Scholar
  17. Klimley AP (1985) The areal distribution and autoecology of the white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, off the west coast of North America. Sthn Calif Acad Sci Mem 9:15–40Google Scholar
  18. Klimley AP (1993) Highly directional swimming by scalloped hammerhead sharks, Sphyrna lewini, and subsurface irradience, temperature, bathymetry and geomagnetic field. Mar Biol 117:1–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Klimley AP, Le Boeuf BJ, Cantara KM, Richert JE, Davis SF, Van Sommeran S (2001) Radio-acoustic positioning as a tool for studying site-specific behavior of the white shark and other large marine species. Mar Biol 138:429–446CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Klimley AP, Beavers SC, Curtis TH, Jorgensen SJ (2002) Movements and swimming behaviour of three species of sharks in La Jolla Canyon, California. Env Biol Fish 63:117–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kohler NE, Casey JG, Turner PA (1998) NMFS Cooperative shark tagging program, 1962–1993: an atlas of shark tag and recapture data. Mar Fish Rev 60:1–87Google Scholar
  22. Last PR, Stevens JD (1994) Sharks and rays of Australia. CSIRO, Australia, 513 ppGoogle Scholar
  23. Long DJ, Hanni KD, Pyle P, Roletto J, Jones RE, Bandar R (1996) White shark predation on four pinniped species in central California waters: geographic and temporal patterns inferred from wounded carcasses. In: Klimley AP, Ainley DG (eds) Great white sharks. The biology of Carcharodon carcharias. Academic, San Diego, pp 263–274Google Scholar
  24. Malcolm H, Bruce BD, Stevens JD (2001) A review of the biology and status of white sharks in Australian waters. In: Report to environment Australia, Marine Species Protection Program, CSIRO Marine Research, Hobart, 113 ppGoogle Scholar
  25. McKibben JN, Nelson DR (1986) Patterns of movement and grouping of gray reef sharks, Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos, at Enewetak, Marshall Islands. Bull Mar Sci 38:89–110Google Scholar
  26. Pardini AT, Jones CS, Noble LR, Kreiser B, Malcolm H, Bruce BD, Stevens JD, Cliff G, Scholl MC, Francis M, Duffy C, Martin AP (2001) Philopatric females and roving male great white sharks. Nature 412:139–140PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Patterson RA (1986) Shark prevention measures working well. Aust Fish 45(3):12–18Google Scholar
  28. Reid DD, Krogh M (1992) Assessment of catches from protective shark meshing off New South Wales beaches between 1950 and 1990. Aust J Mar Freshwater Res 43:283–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Strong WR Jr, Bruce BD, Nelson DR, Murphy RC (1996) Population dynamics of white sharks in Spencer Gulf, South Australia. . In: Klimley AP, Ainley DG (eds) Great white sharks. The biology of Carcharodon carcharias. Academic, San Diego, pp 401–414Google Scholar
  30. Strong WR, Murphy RC, Bruce BD, Nelson DR (1992) Movements and associated observations of bait-attracted white sharks, Carcharodon carcharias: a preliminary report. In: Pepperell JG (ed) Sharks: biology and fisheries. Aust J Mar Freshwater Res 43:13–20Google Scholar
  31. Sundstrom LF, Gruber SH (2002) Effects of capture and transmitter attachment on the swimming speed of large juvenile lemon sharks in the wild. J Fish Biol 61:834–838CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. West GJ, Stevens JD (2001) Archival tagging of school shark, Galeorhinus galeus, in Australia: initial results. Env Biol Fish 60:283–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. West J (1996) White shark attacks in Australian waters. In: Klimley AP, Ainley DG (eds) Great white sharks. The biology of Carcharodon carcharias. Academic, San Diego, pp 449–455Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations