Quantifying habitat selection and variability in habitat suitability for juvenile white sharks
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
While adult white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) are apex predators with a circumglobal distribution, juvenile white sharks (JWS) feed primarily on bottom dwelling fishes and tend to be coastally associated. Despite the assumedly easier access to juveniles compared to large, migratory adults, limited information is available on the movements, environments, and distributions of individuals during this life stage. To quantify movement and understand their distribution in the southern California Bight, JWS were captured and fitted with dorsal fin-mounted satellite transmitters (SPOT tags; n = 18). Nine individuals crossed the U.S. border into Baja California, Mexico. Individuals used shallow habitats (134.96 +/- 191.1 m) close to shore (7.16 +/- 5.65 km). A generalized linear model with a binomial distribution was used to predict the presence of individuals based on several environmental predictors from these areas. Juveniles were found to select shallow habitats (< 1000 m deep) close to land (< 30 km of the shoreline) in waters ranging from 14 to 24 degrees C. Southern California was found to be suitable eight months of the year, while coastal habitats in Baja California were suitable year-round. The model predicted seasonal movement with sharks moving from southern California to Baja California during winter. Additionally, habitat distribution changed inter annually with sharks having a more northerly distribution during years with a higher Pacific Decadal Oscillation index, suggesting sharks may forego their annual fall migrations to Baja California, Mexico, during El Nino years. Model predictions aligned with fishery-dependent catch data, with a greater number of sharks being captured during periods and/or areas of increased habitat suitability. Thus, habitat models could be useful for predicting the presence of JWS in other areas, and can be used as a tool for potentially reducing fishery interactions during seasons and locations where there is increased susceptibility of incidental catch.
Movement Patterns; Carcharodon-carcharias; Temperature; Ocean; Size; Bycatch; Tuna
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White, CF; Lyons, K; Jorgensen, SJ; O'Sullivan, J; Winkler, C; Weng, Kevin C.; and Lowe, CG, Quantifying habitat selection and variability in habitat suitability for juvenile white sharks (2019). PLoS ONE, 14(5), e0214642..