Scale and pattern of broadnose sevengill shark Notorynchus cepedianus movement in estuarine embayments


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The detailed movements of 32 acoustically tagged broadnose sevengill shark Notorynchus cepedianus were documented in and around north-east Pacific Ocean estuarine embayments from 2005 to 2007. Arrangements of passive acoustic receivers allowed analysis of movement at several spatial scales, with sex and size examined as possible factors influencing the pattern and timing of these movements. Notorynchus cepedianus exhibited a distinctly seasonal pattern of estuary use over three consecutive years, entering Willapa Bay in the spring, residing therein for extended periods of time during the summer and dispersing into nearshore coastal habitats and over the continental shelf during the autumn. Notorynchus cepedianus within Willapa Bay showed spatio-temporal patterns of segregation by size and sex, with males and small females using peripheral southern estuary channels early in the season before joining large females, who remained concentrated in central estuary channels for the entire season. Individuals displayed a high degree of fidelity not only to Willapa Bay (63% were documented returning over three consecutive seasons), but also to specific areas within the estuary, showing consistent patterns of site use from year to year. Cross-estuary movement was common during the summer, with most fish also moving into an adjacent estuarine embayment for some extent of time. Most winter and autumn coastal detections of N. cepedianus were made over the continental shelf near Oregon and Washington, U.S.A., but there were also examples of individuals moving into nearshore coastal habitats further south into California, suggesting the feasibility of broad-scale coastal movements to known birthing and nursery grounds for the species. These findings contribute to a better understanding of N. cepedianus movement ecology, which can be used to improve the holistic management of this highly mobile apex predator in regional ecosystems.