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Aquatic Biology

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AB 8:115-123 (2010)  -  DOI:

Large-scale tropical movements and diving behavior of white sharks Carcharodon carcharias tagged off New Zealand

R. Bonfil1,*, M. P. Francis2, C. Duffy3, M. J. Manning2,†, S. O’Brien4

12233 Caton Ave. 5C, Brooklyn, New York 11226, USA
2National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, 301 Evans Bay Parade, Greta Point, Wellington 6021, New Zealand
3Department of Conservation, Private Bag 68908, Newton, Auckland 1145, New Zealand
4School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, 1122 NE Boat St., Seattle, Washington 98105, USA
*Email: Deceased

ABSTRACT: Recent advances in our understanding of the spatial behavior of white sharks have been based on only 3 geographical areas: the waters off Australia, southern Africa, and the northeast Pacific Ocean. Here we report results from the first study in New Zealand waters using satellite tags to study sharks. We attached pop-up archival tags to 4 white sharks Carcharodon carcharias at the Chatham Islands, New Zealand, during April 2005. One tag released prematurely, but 3 others showed long-distance northward movements of 1000 to 3000 km across the open ocean, with 2 sharks moving to the tropical islands of New Caledonia and Vanuatu. Our results are similar to recent findings elsewhere of fast oceanic travel and well oriented navigation. Circumstantial information suggests that some of these movements could be part of a regular foraging migration where white sharks visit humpback whale wintering grounds to feed on carcasses and prey on newborn calves. Before embarking on large-scale movements, all sharks remained over the continental shelf near the Chatham Islands for 2.6 to 5.0 mo, rarely swimming deeper than 100 m. In contrast, during oceanic large-scale movements, they spent most of their time in the top 1 m of water, showing periodic dives to depths over 900 m. The diving behavior in combination with the large-scale movements from temperate to tropical waters results in the sharks experiencing a very wide range of water temperatures.

KEY WORDS: Great white shark . Archival satellite tags . Southwest Pacific Ocean

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Cite this article as: Bonfil R, Francis MP, Duffy C, Manning MJ, O’Brien S (2010) Large-scale tropical movements and diving behavior of white sharks Carcharodon carcharias tagged off New Zealand. Aquat Biol 8:115-123.

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