Acoustic and conventional tagging support the growth patterns of grey nurse sharks and reveal their large-scale displacements in the west coast of Australia
The grey nurse shark, Carcharias taurus, is a globally vulnerable coastal species with aggregatory behaviour and low productivity, making it highly susceptible to overfishing. Little is known on the biology and movement for the population along the west coast of Australia. Here we use acoustic telemetry to show that C. taurus can undertake large-scale movements and potentially capitalise on seasonal prey aggregations. Conventional tagging provided evidence to support the growth parameter values used to represent the species’ growth dynamics and considerably extended the species’ maximum observed age. As maximum age is a proxy for productivity, our findings directly inform the recovery plan currently in place for Australian C. taurus.
We are greatly thankful to the recreational and commercial fishers and DPIRD staff who allowed the collection of movement and growth data, in particular to J. Dennis who reported and released the male shark at liberty for 8098 days.
Financial support was provided by the Fisheries Research Corporation Project No. 2010/003 and logistical support for the project was provided by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Government of Western Australia.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
Human and animal rights statement
All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All sharks were sampled by Departmental staff under scientific exemptions from the Fish Resources Management Act (1994).
- Chidlow J, Gaughan D, McAuley R (2006) Identification of Western Australian grey nurse shark aggregation sites. Final Report to the Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Heritage, Fisheries Research Report No. 155, Department of Fisheries, Western Australia, p 48Google Scholar
- Commonwealth of Australia (2014) Recovery plan for the grey nurse shark (Carcharias taurus). Department of Environment, Australian Government, ParkesGoogle Scholar
- Dulvy NK, Fowler SL, Musick JA, Cavanagh RD, Kyne PM, Harrison LR, Carlson JK, Davidson LN, Fordham SV, Francis MP, Pollock CM, Simpfendorfer CA, Burgess GH, Carpenter KE, Compagno LJ, Ebert DA, Gibson C, Heupel MR, Livingstone SR, Sanciangco JC, Stevens JD, Valenti S, White WT (2014) Extinction risk and conservation of the world’s sharks and rays. Elife 3:e00590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Kohler NE, Casey JG, Turner PA (1998) NMFS cooperative shark tagging program, 1962–93: an atlas of shark tag and recapture data. Mar Fish Rev 60:1–87Google Scholar
- McAuley R, Bruce B, Keay I, Mountford S, Pinnell T (2016) Evaluation of passive acoustic telemetry approaches for monitoring and mitigating shark hazards off the coast of Western Australia. Fisheries Research Report 273. Department of Fisheries of Western Australia, PerthGoogle Scholar
- Otway NM, Burke AL, Morrison NS, Parker PC (2003) Monitoring and identification of NSW critical habitat sites for conservation of grey nurse sharks. Final Report Series No. 47. NSW Fisheries Office of Conservation, Nelson Bay, NSWGoogle Scholar
- Passerotti MS, Andrews AH, Carlson JK, Wintner SP, Goldman KJ, Natanson LJ (2014) Maximum age and missing time in the vertebrae of sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus): validated lifespan from bomb radiocarbon dating in the western North Atlantic and southwestern Indian Oceans. Mar Freshw Res 65:674–687CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- R Core Team (2017). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. URL https://www.R-project.org