Movements of scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) at Cocos Island, Costa Rica and between oceanic islands in the Eastern Tropical Pacific

Elena Nalesso, Alex Hearn, Oscar Sosa-Nishizaki, Todd Steiner, Alex Antoniou, Andrew Reid, Sandra Bessudo, Germán Soler, A. Peter Klimley, Frida Lara, James T. Ketchum, Randall Arauz

 

PLoS ONE 14 (3): e0213741

 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0213741

 

Abstract

 

Many species of sharks form aggregations around oceanic islands, yet their levels of residency and their site specificity around these islands may vary. In some cases, the waters around oceanic islands have been designated as marine protected areas, yet the conservation value for threatened shark species will depend greatly on how much time they spend within these protected waters. Eighty-four scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini Griffith & Smith), were tagged with acoustic transmitters at Cocos Island between 2005– 2013. The average residence index, expressed as a proportion of days present in our receiver array at the island over the entire monitoring period, was 0.52±0.31, implying that overall the sharks are strongly associated with the island. Residency was significantly greater at Alcyone, a shallow seamount located 3.6 km offshore from the main island, than at the other sites. Timing of presence at the receiver locations was mostly during daytime hours. Although only a single individual from Cocos was detected on a region-wide array, nine hammerheads tagged at Galapagos and Malpelo travelled to Cocos. The hammerheads tagged at Cocos were more resident than those visiting from elsewhere, suggesting that the Galapagos and Malpelo populations may use Cocos as a navigational waypoint or stopover during seasonal migrations to the coastal Central and South America. Our study demonstrates the importance of oceanic islands for this species, and shows that they may form a network of hotspots in the Eastern Tropical Pacific.

 

Keywords

 

Sharks, Cocos, Island, Seamount, Telemetry, Animal Migration

 

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