Seasonal movements and behaviour of basking sharks from archival tagging: no evidence of winter hibernation

Sims, D. W., Southall, E. J., Richardson, A. J., Reid, P. C. and Metcalfe, J. D. (2003) Seasonal movements and behaviour of basking sharks from archival tagging: no evidence of winter hibernation. Marine Ecology-progress Series, 248 187-196. doi:10.3354/meps248187

Author Sims, D. W.
Southall, E. J.
Richardson, A. J.
Reid, P. C.
Metcalfe, J. D.
Title Seasonal movements and behaviour of basking sharks from archival tagging: no evidence of winter hibernation
Journal name Marine Ecology-progress Series   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0171-8630
Publication date 2003-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3354/meps248187
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 248
Start page 187
End page 196
Total pages 10
Place of publication Oldendorf Luhe
Publisher Inter-research
Language eng
Subject 0501 Ecological Applications
0602 Ecology
Abstract Habitat selection processes in highly migratory animals such as sharks and whales are important to understand because they influence patterns of distribution, availability and therefore catch rates. However, spatial strategies remain poorly understood over seasonal scales in most species, including, most notably, the plankton-feeding basking shark Cetorhinus maximus. It was proposed nearly 50 yr ago that this globally distributed species migrates from coastal summerfeeding areas of the northeast Atlantic to hibernate during winter in deep water on the bottom of continental-shelf slopes. This view has perpetuated in the literature even though the 'hibernation theory' has not been tested directly. We have now tracked basking sharks for the first time over seasonal scales (1.7 to 6.5 mo) using 'pop-up' satellite archival transmitters. We show that they do not hibernate during winter but instead undertake extensive horizontal (up to 3400 km) and vertical (>750 m depth) movements to utilise productive continental-shelf and shelf-edge habitats during summer, autumn and winter. They travel long distances (390 to 460 km) to locate temporally discrete productivity 'hotspots' at shelf-break fronts, but at no time were prolonged movements into open-ocean regions away from shelf waters observed. Basking sharks have a very broad vertical diving range and can dive beyond the known range of planktivorous whales. Our study suggests this species can exploit shelf and slope-associated zooplankton communities in mesopelagic (200 to 1000 m) as well as epipelagic habitat (0 to 200 m).
Keyword Ecology
Marine & Freshwater Biology
satellite archival telemetry
oceanographic fronts
Plankton Recorder Survey
Northeast Atlantic
Foraging Behavior
Whale Sharks
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
School of Physical Sciences Publications
Ecology Centre Publications
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Created: Thu, 20 Sep 2007, 01:00:41 EST