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To go or not to go with the flow: Environmental influences on whale shark movement patterns

Sleeman, Jai C., Meekan, Mark G., Wilson, Stephen G., Polovina, Jeffrey J, Stevens, John D., Boggs, Guy S. and Bradshaw, Corey J. A. (2010). To go or not to go with the flow: Environmental influences on whale shark movement patterns. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology,390(2):84-98.

Document type: Journal Article

IRMA ID 81704288xPUB493
Title To go or not to go with the flow: Environmental influences on whale shark movement patterns
Author Sleeman, Jai C.
Meekan, Mark G.
Wilson, Stephen G.
Polovina, Jeffrey J
Stevens, John D.
Boggs, Guy S.
Bradshaw, Corey J. A.
Journal Name Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Publication Date 2010
Volume Number 390
Issue Number 2
ISSN 0022-0981   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-78349312107
Start Page 84
End Page 98
Total Pages 15
Place of Publication Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier BV
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DIISR)
Abstract Seven whale sharks were tracked using satellite-linked tags from Ningaloo Reef, off northern Western Australia, following tagging in April and June 2002 and April–May 2005. We investigated how the movements of those whale shark tracks were influenced by geostrophic surface currents during sequential one-week periods by using a passive diffusion model parameterised with observed starting locations of the sharks and weekly maps of surface current velocity and direction (derived from altimetry). We compared the outputs from the passive diffusion model and maps of chlorophyll-a concentration (SeaWiFs/MODIS) and with the actual tracks of the sharks using GIS and generalized linear mixed-effects models (GLMM). The GLMM indicated very little support for passive diffusion with sea-surface ocean currents influencing whale shark distributions in the north eastern Indian Ocean. Moreover, the sharks' movements correlated only weakly with the spatial distribution of sea-surface chlorophyll-a concentrations. The seven whale sharks had average swimming speeds comparable with those recorded in other satellite tracking studies of this species. Swimming speeds of the seven sharks were similar to those reported in previous studies and up to three times greater than the maximum sea-surface current velocities that the sharks encountered while traversing into lower southerly latitudes (moving northward towards the equator). Our results indicate that whale sharks departing from Ningaloo travel actively and independently of near-surface currents where they spend most of their time despite additional metabolic costs of this behaviour.
Keywords Geostrophic currents
Passive diffusion model
Rhincodon typus
Satellite tracking
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Created: Fri, 17 Jan 2014, 00:38:42 CST