Seasonal changes in depth distribution of salmon sharks (Lamna ditropis) in Alaskan waters: implications for foraging ecology

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The salmon shark, Lamna ditropis, is an endothermic, apex predator in the productive waters of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). To understand their role in these productive habitats and to identify and better understand their interactions with commercially important species and fisheries, detailed information regarding the distribution of the salmon shark is required. Archival data records from eight recovered pop-up archival transmitting (PAT) tags were analyzed to examine the geographic and vertical distribution of female salmon sharks and elucidate how their distribution changes in relation to the biotic and abiotic environment. Tagged sharks used the neritic habitats of the GOA for the duration of the PAT deployments. Sharks exhibited a diel periodicity in their dive behavior. Salmon sharks exhibited three different patterns of depth distribution (behavioral modes) that occurred during distinct oceanographic seasons, likely reflecting changes in their foraging ecology in response to seasonal changes in the distribution and availability of important prey. The distribution of salmon sharks in the GOA appears to follow consistent patterns and has a high degree of geographical and vertical overlap with commercially important prey species. This information increases our understanding of interactions between salmon sharks and commercial fisheries and may assist in fostering responsible management for this species.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University, 120 Oceanview Boulevard, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, USA. 2: Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Commercial Fisheries, 3298 Douglas Place, Homer, AK 99603, USA.

Publication date: November 7, 2011

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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