Standard Talk (15 mins) Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference 2022

Fine-scale spatial usage of a coastal beach area by white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) as estimated by a Hidden Markov Model informed by acoustic array data (#53)

Sofia Gabriel 1 , Paige Eveson 2 , Russ Bradford 2 , David Moreno 3 , Jayson Semmens 3 , Toby Patterson 2
  1. Quantitative Marine Science Program, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  2. CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  3. Fisheries and Aquaculture Centre, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

White shark (Carcharodon carcharias) movements are typically observed over large spatial scales (100s-1000s km2). However, observation of fine-scale movement behaviour of white sharks is necessary to improve our understanding of their usage of near-shore coastal areas where there is an increased probability of interactions between sharks and humans. Based on passive acoustic data from a dense, but non-triangulating, array we investigated the fine scale movement of white sharks at a coastal beach within a nursery area off Hawk’s Nest, New South Wales from 2010-2015. Using a spatial Hidden Markov Model (HMM) we were able to estimate white shark movement tracks during each shark visit to the array based on detection binning over 5-minute time intervals. The HMM also enabled direct estimation of the probability of detection as a function of distance from shark to acoustic receivers. The HMM-estimated movement tracks predict heavy utilisation of very shallow water close to the high-water mark by the sharks. Additionally, the southern end of the beach appears to be a focus for short term white shark residency at the beach. The movement tracks estimated here allowed the first high-resolution investigation of white shark movements in the Hawk’s Nest nursery area and demonstrate the potential for estimation of fine-scale position data from non-triangulating passive acoustic monitoring arrays deployed in other coastal marine areas.