Long-term migration patterns and bisexual philopatry in a benthic shark species

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Knowledge of the broad-scale movement patterns of sharks is essential to developing effective management strategies. Currently there is a large bias in studies focusing on species that are either large apex predators or found in tropical to subtropical regions. There is limited knowledge of the movements and migrations of benthic and temperate shark species. The present study used passive acoustic telemetry to investigate the movement patterns of a benthic shark species, the Port Jackson shark (Heterodontus portusjacksoni). Individuals were tagged with acoustic transmitters between 2012 and 2014 and their movements were monitored within Jervis Bay and along the east Australian coastline for up to 4 years. Male and female Port Jackson sharks demonstrated high levels of philopatry to both Jervis Bay and their tagging location across multiple years. Although males and females did not differ in their arrival times, females departed from Jervis Bay later than males. Approximately half the tagged individuals migrated in a southward direction, with individuals being detected at Narooma, Bass Strait and Cape Barron Island. This study provides conclusive evidence of bisexual philopatry in a benthic temperate shark species, confirming previous hypotheses, and presents the most detailed migration route for Port Jackson sharks to date.