Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Broad-scale coastal movements of white sharks off Western Australia described by passive acoustic telemetry data

R. B. McAuley A D , B. D. Bruce B , I. S. Keay A , S. Mountford A , T. Pinnell A and F. G. Whoriskey C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Fisheries, Government of Western Australia WA Fisheries and Marine Research Laboratories, PO Box 20, North Beach, WA 6920, Australia.

B CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Research, Castray Esplanade, Battery Point, Tas. 7004, Australia.

C Ocean Tracking Network Dalhousie University, 1355 Oxford Road, PO Box 15 000, Halifax, NS, B3H 4R2, Canada.

D Corresponding author. Email: rory.mcauley@fish.wa.gov.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 68(8) 1518-1531 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF16222
Submitted: 20 June 2016  Accepted: 19 January 2017   Published: 17 March 2017

Abstract

Movements of 89 acoustically tagged subadult and adult white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) were monitored off the south and west coasts of Western Australia (WA) between December 2008 and May 2016 by a network of up to 343 passive acoustic receivers. In all, 290 inter-regional movements, totalling 185 092 km were recorded for 73 of these sharks. Estimated rates of movement in excess of 3 km h–1 (mean 1.7 km h–1; maximum 5.6 km h–1) were common, even over distances of thousands of kilometres. Detections indicated that white sharks may be present off most of the south and lower west coasts of WA throughout the year, although they are more likely to be encountered during spring and early summer and are least likely to be present during late summer and autumn. There was limited evidence of predictable return behaviour, seasonal movement patterns or coordination of the direction and timing of individual shark’s movements. Nevertheless, the data suggest that further analyses of movements in relation to ecological factors may be useful predictors of shark activity at local scales. It is hoped that these data may be useful for informing public safety initiatives aimed at mitigating the risks associated with human encounters with white sharks off the WA coast.


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