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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps14565

Salmon shark seasonal site fidelity demonstrates the influence of scale on identifying potential high-use areas and vulnerabilities

Natalie S. Arnoldi*, Aaron B. Carlisle, Samantha Andrzejaczek, Michael R. Castleton, Fiorenza Micheli, Robert J. Schallert, Timothy D. White, Barbara A. Block

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Considering habitat use throughout highly mobile marine species’ whole range is necessary to understand life history, identify vulnerabilities, and inform effective management. We used satellite tagging data from 128 adult female salmon sharks to identify seasonal hotspots of activity in an extended California Current region (ECCR; encompassing the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem); an area far away from their well-described primary habitat in the Alaska Downwelling Region (ADR) where they have been documented, but whose utility has been poorly understood. Tag track durations had a mean of 447.7 ± 381 days and 88 sharks (68.8%) visited the ECCR, comprising 33.6% of 28,019 total daily Argos detections. Tracking data revealed that the timing and duration of migrations to the ECCR varied, but salmon shark distribution within the ECCR displayed consistent latitudinal shifts in accordance with regional oceanographic seasons. High site fidelity across multi-year tracks to high productivity features, such as sea banks, and previously published knowledge of salmon shark life-history suggest that the ECCR provides important foraging habitat which may be linked to reproductive success. The data reveal high overlap of salmon shark distribution with cumulative fishing effort collected by Global Fishing Watch for 2012-2019, particularly around seasonal hotspots, suggesting that female salmon sharks might be at risk of fisheries encounters. Collectively, our findings emphasize the importance of the ECCR in salmon shark life history and demonstrate the influence of spatial and temporal scale on interpretation of large movement datasets and identification of critical habitat outside of well-studied regions.