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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