Post-release survival, vertical movements and thermal niche partitioning in five species pelagic sharks released from longline fishing gear in the central Pacific Ocean

Musyl MK, Brill RW, Curran DS, McNaughton LM, Kikkawa B, Fragoso N, Moyes CD
Journal/Publisher Name
Fishery Bulletin
Volume (Issue #)
Page #s
Contact information
Bruce C. Mundy
Scientific Editor, Fishery Bulletin
National Marine Fisheries Serivce
Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center
Aiea Heights Research Facility
99-193 Aiea Heights Drive, Suite 417
Aiea, Hawaii 96701-3911

From 2001 to 2006, 71 pop-up satellite archival tags (PSATs) were deployed on five species of pelagic shark (blue shark [Prionace glauca]; shortfin mako [Isurus oxyrinchus]; silky shark [Carcharhinus falciformis]; oceanic whitetip shark [C. longimanus]; and bigeye thresher [Alopias superciliosus]) in the central Pacific Ocean to determine species-specific movement patterns and survival rates after release from longline fishing gear. Only a single postrelease mortality could be unequivocally documented: a male blue shark which succumbed seven days after release. Meta-analysis of published reports and the current study (n=78 reporting PSATs) indicated that the summary effect of postrelease mortality for blue sharks was 15% (95% CI, 8.5–25.1%) and suggested that catch-and-release in longline fisheries can be a viable management tool to protect parental biomass in shark populations. Pelagic sharks displayed species-specific depth and temperature ranges, although with significant individual temporal and spatial variability in vertical movement patterns, which were also punctuated by stochastic events (e.g., El Niño-Southern Oscillation). Pelagic species can be separated into three broad groups based on daytime temperature preferences by using the unweighted pair-group method with arithmetic averaging clustering on a Kolmogorov-Smirnov Dmax distance matrix: 1) epipelagic species (silky and oceanic whitetip sharks), which spent >95% of their time at temperatures within 2°C of sea surface temperature; 2) mesopelagic-I species (blue sharks and shortfin makos, which spent 95% of their time at temperatures from 9.7° to 26.9°C and from 9.4° to 25.0°C, respectively; and 3) mesopelagic-II species (bigeye threshers), which spent 95% of their time at temperatures from 6.7° to 21.2°C. Distinct thermal niche partitioning based on body size and latitude was also evident within epipelagic species.