MEPS 209:307-310 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/meps209307

Employing Crittercam to study habitat use and behavior of large sharks

Michael R. Heithaus1,*, Greg J. Marshall2, Birgit M. Buhleier2, Lawrence M. Dill1

1Behavioural Ecology Research Group, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6, Canada
2National Geographic Television, Special Projects, Natural History Unit, 1145 17
th St, NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA
*E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Investigations of shark habitat use and foraging ecology have been hampered by inaccuracies inherent in many current methods. Although catch rates and acoustic telemetry may be appropriate for studying habitat use at a broad geographic scale, they are often not adequate for fine-scale determination of habitat use. Also, these techniques cannot provide data on how sharks behave in different habitats or on feeding behavior or social interactions. In this paper, we present a method that allows analysis of shark habitat use using an attached underwater video camera with an integrated time-depth recorder (ŒCrittercam¹), which provides accurate, and continuous habitat use data on a fine geographic scale, as well as a record of shark behavior. Deployments on tiger sharks that were tracked simultaneously (n = 22) show that habitat use estimates of individual sharks may differ between Crittercam and acoustic tracking data. However, average habitat use measured by acoustic tracking may be accurate if sample sizes are large.


KEY WORDS: Acoustic telemetry · Habitat use · Sharks · Behavior · Ecology


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