Seasonality, behaviour and philopatry of spotted ragged-tooth sharks Carcharias taurus in Eastern Cape nursery areas, South Africa
Spotted ragged-tooth sharks Carcharias taurus occur along the southern and eastern coasts of South Africa. We report on movements of juveniles and adults within a known nursery area on the Eastern Cape coast using acoustic telemetry. The focus area of the study was Algoa Bay, where six VEMCO VR2 ultrasonic receivers were placed at known shark aggregation sites. An additional receiver was placed at Thunderbolt Reef, approximately 2 km southwest of Cape Recife, the south-western tip of Algoa Bay. Single receivers were also deployed at Port Alfred and East London, some 45 and 170 km north-east of Algoa Bay, respectively. VEMCO acoustic V16 tags were either surgically implanted (n = 37) or attached externally using dart heads (n = 6) between January 2003 and March 2006. Surgically implanted tags were recorded over multiple months and years, whereas external tags were probably lost shortly after tagging because they were detected for very short periods. Sharks moved extensively between the sites and revisited monitored reefs over time-periods of months and years, demonstrating philopatry. Departures from and arrivals at reefs were more frequently recorded at sunset and sunrise, respectively. Sharks were detected throughout the year but they spent more time at aggregation sites during summer and autumn, indicating seasonal abundance in agreement with previous findings. Movements away from study reefs were attributed to either foraging or movements to other reefs. Despite extensive movements around the bay and beyond, both juveniles and adults exhibited philopatry to the study area over multiple years.
Keywords: acoustic telemetry, Algoa Bay, behaviour, migration