Abstract


MULTI-METHOD APPROACH TO MONITORING A REEF-ASSOCIATED WHALE SHARK AGGREGATION IN THE RED SEA

The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is known to aggregate seasonally in specific sites within its circumglobal range. Among these is Shib Habil, an inshore reef off the western coast of Saudi Arabia where whale sharks are known to gather each spring. In 2010 an array of 32 acoustic receivers was installed on and around Shib Habil. From 2009-2015, 59 satellite and 91 acoustic tags were deployed on sharks in the Red Sea, including 33 animals that were fitted with both. Satellite telemetry demonstrated strong population-scale site fidelity to the southern Red Sea. Based on the acoustics, the aggregation season was defined as February through May; these months account for over 90% of whale shark detections in the area. Levels of activity were compared between receiver stations and the most active receivers also account for over 90% of whale shark detections. Approximately 40% of acoustically tagged sharks were detected again the following year. Satellite data shows that 12 of these phylopatric sharks migrated hundreds of kilometers away from Shib Habil between aggregation seasons. Establishing this baseline serves as a point of comparison as conditions change through time. For instance, we anticipate being able to show whether a recent bleaching event at Shib Habil correlates to a change in the aggregation during the coming season.

Authors

Cochran, J., King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, USA, jesse.e.m.cochran@gmail.com

Braun, C. D., Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA, cbraun@whoi.edu

Thorrold, S. R., Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA, sthorrold@whoi.edu

Skomal, G. B., Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, USA, gregory.skomal@state.ma.us

Berumen, M. L., King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia, michael.berumen@kaust.edu.sa

Details

Oral presentation

Session #:47
Date: 06/23/2016
Time: 14:45
Location: 308 A/B

Presentation is given by student: No