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A multiple instrument approach to quantifying the movement patterns and habitat use of tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier) and Galapagos sharks (Carcharhinus galapagensis) at French Frigate Shoals, Hawaii

Abstract

We equipped individual tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier Péron and Lesueur, 1822) and Galapagos (Carcharhinus galapagensis Snodgrass and Heller, 1905) sharks with both acoustic and satellite transmitters to quantify their long-term movements in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands). Tiger sharks exhibited two broad patterns of behavior. Some individuals were detected at French Frigate Shoals (FFS) year round, whereas others visited FFS atoll in summer to forage on fledging albatross, then swam thousands of kilometers along the Hawaiian chain, or out into open ocean to the North Pacific transition zone chlorophyll front, before returning to FFS in subsequent years. These patterns suggest tiger sharks may use cognitive maps to navigate between distant foraging areas. Different patterns of spatial behavior may arise because cognitive maps are built up through individual exploration, and each tiger shark learns a unique combination of foraging sites. Galapagos shark detections were all associated with FFS, suggesting these sharks may be more resident around oceanic islands. Both Galapagos and tiger sharks primarily used the mixed layer (<100 m depth) and made occasional deeper dives through the thermocline down to 680 m. Results show reef-associated sharks utilize a wide variety of habitats ranging from shallow atoll lagoons to deep reefs and open ocean and may provide important trophic links between these habitats.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the crew of the NOAA ship Hi’ialakai especially coxswains S. Jones, J. Kehn and G. Maurizio for scientific mission support. We thank R. Kosaki, B. Bowen, M. Craig, J. Zamzow and P. Santos for their assistance in the field. We are grateful to Lucas Moxey (NOAA) for providing WiFS ocean color satellite imagery. This study was funded by an award to Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology from the National Marine Sanctuary Program (MOA 2005-008/6882). This work was carried out in accordance with the animal use protocols of the University of Hawaii (protocol #05-053). This work was conducted under U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Use Permit #12521-06048, State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources permits # DLNR.NWHI06R019, NOAA-NWHIMNM-permit #2006-012, and Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument permits # PMNM-2007-031, #PMNM-2008-027 and # PMNM-2009-037. The experiments carried out during this study complied with the current laws of the United States of America.

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Correspondence to Carl G. Meyer.

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Communicated by S. Garthe.

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Meyer, C.G., Papastamatiou, Y.P. & Holland, K.N. A multiple instrument approach to quantifying the movement patterns and habitat use of tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier) and Galapagos sharks (Carcharhinus galapagensis) at French Frigate Shoals, Hawaii. Mar Biol 157, 1857–1868 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-010-1457-x

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Keywords

  • Atoll
  • Acoustic Transmitter
  • Tiger Shark
  • Acoustic Detection
  • Atoll Lagoon