Sex and size influence the spatiotemporal distribution of white sharks, with implications for interactions with fisheries and spatial management in the southwest Indian Ocean

Alison A. Kock*, Amanda T. Lombard, Ryan Daly, Victoria Goodall, Michael Meÿer, Ryan Johnson, Chris Fischer, Pieter Koen, Dylan Irion, Enrico Gennari, Alison Towner, Oliver J. D. Jewell, Charlene da Silva, Matthew L. Dicken, Malcolm J. Smale, Theoni Photopoulou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Human activities in the oceans increase the extinction risk of marine megafauna. Interventions require an understanding of movement patterns and the spatiotemporal overlap with threats. We analysed the movement patterns of 33 white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) satellite-tagged in South Africa between 2012 and 2014 to investigate the influence of size, sex and season on movement patterns and the spatial and temporal overlap with longline and gillnet fisheries and marine protected areas (MPAs). We used a hidden Markov model to identify ‘resident’ and ‘transient’ movement states and investigate the effect of covariates on the transition probabilities between states. A model with sex, total length and season had the most support. Tagged sharks were more likely to be in a resident state near the coast and a transient state away from the coast, while the probability of finding a shark in the transient state increased with size. White sharks moved across vast areas of the southwest Indian Ocean, emphasising the need for a regional management plan. White sharks overlapped with longline and gillnet fisheries within 25% of South Africa’s Exclusive Economic Zone and spent 15% of their time exposed to these fisheries during the study period. The demersal shark longline fishery had the highest relative spatial and temporal overlap, followed by the pelagic longline fishery and the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) shark nets and drumlines. However, the KZN shark nets and drumlines reported the highest white shark catches, emphasising the need to combine shark movement and fishing effort with reliable catch records to assess risks to shark populations accurately. White shark exposure to shark nets and drumlines, by movement state, sex and maturity status, corresponded with the catch composition of the fishery, providing support for a meaningful exposure risk estimate. White sharks spent significantly more time in MPAs than expected by chance, likely due to increased prey abundance or less disturbance, suggesting that MPAs can benefit large, mobile marine megafauna. Conservation of white sharks in Southern Africa can be improved by implementing non-lethal solutions to beach safety, increasing the observer coverage in fisheries, and continued monitoring of movement patterns and existing and emerging threats.
Original languageEnglish
Article number811985
Number of pages20
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Marine Science
  • Conservation
  • Satellite tagging
  • Movement states
  • Marine protected area (MPA)
  • Carcharodon carcharias

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Sex and size influence the spatiotemporal distribution of white sharks, with implications for interactions with fisheries and spatial management in the southwest Indian Ocean'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this