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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 724:111-125 (2023)  -  DOI:

Migration, aggregation, and philopatry of two nearshore elasmobranch species in the Southern California Bight

A-bel Y. Gong1,*, Andrew P. Nosal1,2,3, Daniel P. Cartamil3, James M. Anderson4, Lyall F. Bellquist5,3, Noah J. Ben-Aderet6, Kayla M. Blincow7, Echelle S. Burns8, Chris Caldow9, Ryan M. Freedman9, Ryan K. Logan4, Christopher G. Lowe4, Brice X. Semmens3, Brian S. Stirling4, Connor F. White10, Philip A. Hastings3

1University of San Diego, 5998 Acala Park Way, San Diego, CA 92110, USA
2Point Loma Nazarene University, 3900 Lomaland Drive, San Diego, CA 92106, USA
3Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, 8622 Kennel Way, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
4California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90840, USA
5The Nature Conservancy, 410 West A Street, Suite 1650, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
6California Natural Resources Agency, 715 P Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, USA
7University of the Virgin Islands, Charlotte Amalie West, Saint Thomas, US Virgin Islands 00802, USA
8University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
9Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
10Harvard University, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Over one-third of elasmobranch fishes (sharks, rays, and skates) are threatened with extinction, mostly due to overfishing, habitat loss, and habitat degradation. Understanding the daily and seasonal movement patterns of these species can inform when and where populations are most susceptible to these threats, but these data are often lacking for nearshore species that are not actively managed. Two such species are the shovelnose guitarfish Pseudobatos productus and California bat ray Myliobatis californica; this study quantified the broad- and fine-scale movement patterns of these species using passive acoustic telemetry. Twelve guitarfish (10 female, 2 male) were surgically implanted with coded acoustic transmitters at an aggregation site off La Jolla (San Diego County), California, USA, and tracked for 849.5 ± 548.9 d (mean ± SD). Six bat rays (all female) were also implanted with transmitters and tracked for 1143.8 ± 830.9 d. These animals were detected at 187 acoustic receiver stations between Point Conception, California, and San Quintín, Baja California, Mexico. Both species exhibited annual philopatry to La Jolla, especially in July, after traveling as far north as Santa Barbara (221 km away; guitarfish) and San Miguel Island (259 km away; bat rays), California. Based on their movement patterns and known reproductive phenology, we hypothesize that both species utilize the La Jolla aggregation site as a gestating ground and possibly also a mating, pupping, and nursery ground. This site is within a no-take reserve, and we recommend that similar sites also be protected, given the increased susceptibility to anthropogenic stressors when aggregating.

KEY WORDS: Movement patterns · Behavior · Acoustic telemetry · Shovelnose guitarfish · California bat ray · Animal tracking

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Cite this article as: Gong AY, Nosal AP, Cartamil DP, Anderson JM and others (2023) Migration, aggregation, and philopatry of two nearshore elasmobranch species in the Southern California Bight. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 724:111-125.

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