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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 406:265-279 (2010)  -  DOI:

Short-term movements and diving behaviour of satellite-tracked blue sharks Prionace glauca in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean

Nuno Queiroz1,2,3, Nicolas E. Humphries1, Leslie R. Noble3, António M. Santos2, David W. Sims1,4,*

1Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, The Laboratory, Citadel Hill, Plymouth PL1 2PB, UK
2CIBIO – U.P., Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Campus Agrário de Vairão, Rua Padre Armando Quintas, 4485-668 Vairão, Portugal
3School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Tillydrone Avenue, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK
4Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre, School of Marine Sciences and Engineering, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Shifts in the movement, activity or behaviour of individual animals in relation to changing environmental landscapes play an important role in determining re-distribution patterns of populations. Such spatial dynamics are poorly understood for pelagic sharks despite the decline of many species due to overfishing. Satellite-linked archival transmitters were used to record the movements of blue sharks Prionace glauca for the first time in the northeast Atlantic. A total of 256 tracking days were recorded, with sharks covering an estimated minimum distance of 11432 km. Generally, blue sharks displayed wide-ranging southward movements away from the tagging areas (English Channel, southern Portugal and the Azores Islands), with juvenile sharks displaying less site fidelity than previously suggested from other methods. Vertical movements ranged from the surface to a maximum depth of 696 m, and water temperatures varied from 10.6 to 24.6°C. Shifts in both thermal and depth-use patterns were detected, with tracked sharks displaying behavioural variability correlated with the environment, both within and between individuals. Patterns of behaviour in coastal areas were generally linked to the thermal structure of the water column; sharks displayed some preference for surface layers in thermally stratified waters, but displayed less regular behaviour in well-mixed or weakly stratified waters. In offshore locations, sharks usually adopted either a surface-oriented or a depth-oriented diving pattern, often switching between both in response to probable changes in prey distribution or prey type when in deeper water. Fishing-induced mortality of tracked sharks was approximately 10% during the period of 13 to 70 d post-tagging. Our results indicate a variety of short and longer range movements of juvenile and sub-adult blue sharks with respect to time and environment in the northeast Atlantic, which suggests complex spatial dynamics and population structuring in this exploited species.

KEY WORDS: Behaviour · Habitat use · Variability · Telemetry · Diving patterns

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Cite this article as: Queiroz N, Humphries NE, Noble LR, Santos AM, Sims DW (2010) Short-term movements and diving behaviour of satellite-tracked blue sharks Prionace glauca in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 406:265-279.

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