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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 471:165-181 (2012)  -  DOI:

Seasonal residency, habitat use, and site fidelity of juvenile sand tiger sharks Carcharias taurus in a Massachusetts estuary

Jeff Kneebone1,*, John Chisholm2, Gregory B. Skomal

1University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, School for Marine Science and Technology, 200 Mill Road, Suite 325, Fairhaven, Massachusetts 02719, USA
2Massachusetts Marine Fisheries, 838 South Rodney French Boulevard, New Bedford, Massachusetts 02744, USA

ABSTRACT: The sand tiger shark Carcharias taurus is a large coastal species that has endured marked declines in its western North Atlantic population over the past 30 yr. In the face of these declines, identification of nursery areas for this species is of particular importance to ensure the implementation of protective measures that will maximize survival of young individuals to maturity. Passive acoustic telemetry was used to assess the emergence of Plymouth, Kingston, Duxbury (PKD) Bay, Massachusetts, USA, as a seasonal nursery for juvenile sand tigers that migrate north from southern parturition grounds. Seasonal residency, habitat use, and site fidelity of 73 acoustically tagged juvenile sand tigers (78 to 108 cm fork length) were monitored within PKD Bay during 4 seasonal periods from 2008 to 2011. Eight individuals were tracked in multiple years, with 2 individuals returning to PKD Bay in 3 consecutive years. Sand tigers remained in PKD Bay for periods of 1 to 124 d and displayed a high degree of site fidelity to 2 core habitats during each year of the study. Weekly activity space estimates were relatively constant throughout each yearly monitoring period, with a general increase prior to emigration of sharks from the embayment. Emigration of sharks from PKD Bay was significantly related to both day length and water temperature. Collectively, these results suggest that PKD Bay constitutes a seasonal nursery area for juvenile sand tigers and warrants the extension of juvenile sand tiger essential fish habitat north of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA.

KEY WORDS: Sand tiger · Acoustic telemetry · Site fidelity · Residency · Habitat use · Nursery

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Cite this article as: Kneebone J, Chisholm J, Skomal GB (2012) Seasonal residency, habitat use, and site fidelity of juvenile sand tiger sharks Carcharias taurus in a Massachusetts estuary. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 471:165-181.

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