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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Where Are Tiger Sharks In Hawaii?

Courtesy of Nature Scientific Reports.

Carl Meyer, James Anderson, Daniel Coffey, Mark Royer and Kim Holland of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology and Melanie Hutchinson of the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center compared tiger shark behavior among four major Hawaiian Islands to evaluate whether local patterns of movement could explain higher numbers of shark bites seen around Maui than other islands.

The team explained their sample of 96 electronically-tagged tiger sharks that were individually tracked for up to 6 years in their paper, Habitat geography around Hawaii’s oceanic islands influences tiger shark spatial behaviour and shark bite risk at ocean recreation sites.

They reported, "Most individuals showed fidelity to a specific ‘home’ island, but also swam between islands and sometimes ranged far (up to 1,400 km) offshore. Movements were primarily oriented to insular shelf habitat (0–200 m depth) in coastal waters, and individual sharks utilized core-structured home ranges within this habitat. Core utilization areas of large tiger sharks were closer to high-use ocean recreation sites around Maui, than around Oahu.

Tiger sharks routinely visited shallow ocean recreation sites around Maui and were detected on more days overall at ocean recreation sites around Maui (62–80%) than Oahu (<6%).

Overall, our results suggest the extensive insular shelf surrounding Maui supports a fairly resident population of tiger sharks and also attracts visiting tiger sharks from elsewhere in Hawaii. Collectively these natural, habitat-driven spatial patterns may in-part explain why Maui has historically had more shark bites than other Hawaiian Islands

The chart above shows the presence of 32 tiger sharks via yellow points within coastal habitats of the main Hawaiian Islands.

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