Young blue sharks use central North Atlantic nursery

Aug 13, 2014
Young blue sharks use central North Atlantic nursery
A blue shark was photographed in the Azores. Credit: F. Vandeperre

Blue sharks may use the central North Atlantic as a nursery prior to males and females moving through the ocean basin in distinctly different patterns, according to a study published August 13, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Frederic Vandeperre from University of the Azores, Portugal, and colleagues.

Shark populations typically organize by location and separate by sex and size, but these patterns remain poorly understood, particularly for exploited oceanic species such as the blue shark. The authors of this study employed a long-term electronic tagging experiment to investigate the migratory patterns of , to investigate how these population patterns change across the species' life history, as well as to assess the existence of a nursery area in the central North Atlantic. Scientists tracked about 35 blue sharks from different life stages for periods of up to ~1,000 days, as they swam through large parts of the .

The blue sharks' movement varied individually, but the researchers found and differences in movements and space use throughout the sharks' life. Specifically, they discovered evidence for the existence of a discrete central North Atlantic nursery, where juvenile sharks reside for at least 2 years. After living in the nursery, male and female blue sharks spatially separate: juvenile females seasonally migrated until they shifted toward living in tropical latitudes as they approached maturity, and juvenile males generally expanded their range southward and displayed greater behavioral variation. The authors suggest these results have implications for the sustainable management of this heavily exploited shark, especially in the central North Atlantic, where the presence of a nursery and seasonal overlap and alternation of different life stages coincides with a high fishing mortality.

"For the first time, this study shows the utilisation of a discrete, oceanic nursery in an oceanic shark and how movements change throughout their lives. It offers a unique insight in the ecological adaptations to their open ocean habitat and highlights the challenges for their management," Frederic Vandeperre added.

Explore further: Whale shark fringe migration

More information: Vandeperre F, Aires-da-Silva A, Fontes J, Santos M, Serrao Santos R, et al. (2014) Movements of Blue Sharks (Prionace glauca) across Their Life History. PLoS ONE 9(8): e103538. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103538

Related Stories

Whale shark fringe migration

Jul 16, 2014

At the fringe of the whale shark range, the volcanic Azore islands may play an increasing role for the north Atlantic population as sea surface temperatures rise, according to a study published July 16, 2014 in the open-access ...

Humane strategy reduces shark attacks

Aug 04, 2014

A simple and humane technique may be an effective strategy to reduce human encounters with sharks without harming populations of threatened shark species.

Recommended for you

Do you have the time? Flies sure do

45 minutes ago

Flies might be smarter than you think. According to research reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on May 28, fruit flies know what time of day it is. What's more, the insects can learn to con ...

Barking characterizes dogs as voice characterizes people

3 hours ago

An international group of researchers has conducted a study on canine behavior showing that gender, age, context and individual recognition can be identified with a high percentage of success through statistical ...

Bird beaks feeling the heat of climate change, say scientists

5 hours ago

While the human population grapples with ways to counter the effects of climate change, Deakin University research has discovered that birds might have been working on their own solution for the past 145 years – grow bigger ...

How longhorned beetles find Mr. Right

17 hours ago

A longhorned beetle's sexy scent might make a female perk up her antennae. But when the males of several species all smell the same, a female cannot choose by cologne alone.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.