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Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 351–364 | Cite as

Space Utilization and Swimming Depth of White Sharks, Carcharodon carcharias, at the South Farallon Islands, Central California

  • Kenneth J. Goldman
  • Scot D. Anderson
Article

Abstract

This paper presents information on the movements of white sharks, Carcharodon carcharias, at the South Farallon Islands (SFI), central California. Acoustic telemetry techniques provided preliminary data on the diurnal space utilization, movement patterns and swimming depths of four white sharks, ranging from approximately 3.7 to 4.9m in length. Sharks swam within about 10m of the bottom to depths of approximately 30m, but in deeper water they tended to stray more from the bottom. Activity spaces for time periods tracked ranged from 1.84 to 9.15km2. Indications are that an inverse relationship exists between length and activity space. During the time tracked, larger individuals swam within particular areas around the islands whereas smaller individuals did not restrict their movements in the same manner. Values of a site attachment index were inversely related to length for all sharks tracked. The site attachment indices, apparent inverse relationship between total length and activity space and observations on telemetered and other known individuals support a hypothesis that larger sharks possess site fidelity in their search for prey at SFI, within and between years. With the high frequency of predation by white sharks on juvenile northern elephant seals at SFI in the fall, the majority of the sharks' movements are probably related to their search for these pinniped prey. These data provide preliminary evidence that white sharks at SFI may search for prey by swimming in a particular area over a number of days or weeks, traversing the area in a manner which maximizes coverage, and swimming close to the bottom or at a distance far enough from the surface to remain cryptic from prey.

elasmobranchs movements activity space site fidelity acoustic telemetry search behavior 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth J. Goldman
    • 1
  • Scot D. Anderson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologySan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoU.S.A.
  2. 2.InvernessU.S.A

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