Ocean and Coast Research

Gold Coast, Australia

Ocean and Coast Research

Gold Coast, Australia

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Werry J.M.,Griffith University | Werry J.M.,Ocean and Coast Research | Berumen M.L.,King Abdullah University of Science and Technology | Berumen M.L.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Knowledge of the habitat use and migration patterns of large sharks is important for assessing the effectiveness of large predator Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), vulnerability to fisheries and environmental influences, and management of shark-human interactions. Here we compare movement, reef-fidelity, and ocean migration for tiger sharks, Galeocerdo cuvier, across the Coral Sea, with an emphasis on New Caledonia. Thirty-three tiger sharks (1.54 to 3.9 m total length) were tagged with passive acoustic transmitters and their localised movements monitored on receiver arrays in New Caledonia, the Chesterfield and Lord Howe Islands in the Coral Sea, and the east coast of Queensland, Australia. Satellite tags were also used to determine habitat use and movements among habitats across the Coral Sea. Sub-adults and one male adult tiger shark displayed year-round residency in the Chesterfields with two females tagged in the Chesterfields and detected on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, after 591 and 842 days respectively. In coastal barrier reefs, tiger sharks were transient at acoustic arrays and each individual demonstrated a unique pattern of occurrence. From 2009 to 2013, fourteen sharks with satellite and acoustic tags undertook wide-ranging movements up to 1114 km across the Coral Sea with eight detected back on acoustic arrays up to 405 days after being tagged. Tiger sharks dove 1136 m and utilised three-dimensional activity spaces averaged at 2360 km3. The Chesterfield Islands appear to be important habitat for sub-adults and adult male tiger sharks. Management strategies need to consider the wide-ranging movements of large (sub-adult and adult) male and female tiger sharks at the individual level, whereas fidelity to specific coastal reefs may be consistent across groups of individuals. Coastal barrier reef MPAs, however, only afford brief protection for large tiger sharks, therefore determining the importance of other oceanic Coral Sea reefs should be a priority for future research. © 2014 Werry et al.


Read T.C.,Laboratory of Marine Biology and Ecology | Read T.C.,Griffith University | Wantiez L.,University of New Caledonia | Werry J.M.,Griffith University | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Marine megafauna tend to migrate vast distances, often crossing national borders and pose a significant challenge to managers. This challenge is particularly acute in the Pacific, which contains numerous small island nations and thousands of kilometers of continental margins. The green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas, is one such megafauna that is endangered in Pacific waters due to the overexploitation of eggs and adults for human consumption. Data from long-term tagging programs in Queensland (Australia) and New Caledonia were analysed to investigate the migrations by C. mydas across the Coral Sea between their nesting site and their feeding grounds. A review of data collected over the last 50 years by different projects identified multiple migrations of C. mydas to and from New Caledonia (n = 97) and indicate that turtles foraging in New Caledonia nest in the Great Barrier Reef (Australia) and vice versa. Several explanations exist for turtles exhibiting this energetically costly movement pattern from breeding to distant foraging grounds (1200-2680 km away) despite viable foraging habitat being available in the local vicinity. These include hatchling drift, oceanic movements and food abundance predictability. Most of the tag recoveries in New Caledonia belonged to females from the south Great Barrier Reef genetic stock. Some females (n = 2) even showed fidelity to foraging sites located 1200 km away from the nesting site located in New Caledonia. This study also reveals previously unknown migrations pathways of turtles within the Coral Sea. © 2014 Read et al.


Read T.C.,Laboratory of Marine Biology and Ecology | Read T.C.,Griffith University | Fitzsimmons N.N.,Griffith University | Wantiez L.,University of New Caledonia | And 9 more authors.
Wildlife Research | Year: 2015

Context Migratory species are known to pose a challenge for conservation because it is essential to understand their complex life history in order to implement efficient conservation actions. Aims In New Caledonia, large seagrass habitats in the Grand Lagon Sud (GLS) are home to resident green turtles (Chelonia mydas) of unknown origins. To assess the stock composition in the GLS, 164 foraging turtles were sampled for genetic analysis of ∼770 base pairs of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region. Methods Foraging turtles ranging in size from 48.0 to 108.4cm curved carapace length were captured at five different sites within the GLS between September 2012 and December 2013. To provide baseline data for mixed stock analysis, published data from rookeries were used in addition to 105 samples collected at rookeries in the d'Entrecasteaux Islands and Chesterfield Islands in New Caledonia and at Malekula Island in Vanuatu. Exact tests of population differentiation and pairwise FST estimates were used to test for differences in mtDNA haplotype frequencies. Key results These analyses indicated that rookeries in the d'Entrecasteaux Islands and Vanuatu form unique management units and that the Chesterfield Islands rookeries are linked to the Coral Sea management unit. Mixed stock analysis indicated the highest proportion (mean≤0.63) of foraging turtles originate from the d'Entrecasteaux stock. Conclusions The larger contribution is estimated to be from a large rookery from New Caledonia, but smaller contributions are suggested from other rookeries in the South Pacific. Implications Marine conservation policies in New Caledonia need to consider the links between the foraging and nesting populations of C. mydas in New Caledonia and other rookeries and foraging grounds in the Coral Sea. Journal compilation © CSIRO 2015.


Corrigan S.,College of Charleston | Kacev D.,San Diego State University | Werry J.,Ocean and Coast Research | Werry J.,Griffith University
Journal of Fish Biology | Year: 2015

This article documents a case of genetic polyandry in the oceanic and pelagic shortfin mako Isurus oxyrinchus and briefly comments on the implications of this finding. © 2015 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles.


PubMed | College of Charleston, San Diego State University and Ocean and Coast Research
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of fish biology | Year: 2015

This article documents a case of genetic polyandry in the oceanic and pelagic shortfin mako Isurus oxyrinchus and briefly comments on the implications of this finding.


Werry J.M.,Griffith University | Werry J.M.,Ocean and Coast Research | Lee S.Y.,Griffith University | Otway N.M.,Port Stephens Fisheries Institute | And 2 more authors.
Marine and Freshwater Research | Year: 2011

Understanding the ontogenetic habitat linkages of sharks is important for conservation and managing human interactions. We used acoustic telemetry, catch data, elemental and stable isotope signatures and dietary analyses to investigate ontogenetic habitat use in south-east Queensland, Australia, by the bull shark Carcharhinus leucas, a IUCN 'near-threatened' species that is implicated in many shark attacks on humans in urban estuaries. Sequential analyses for 15N and 13C of vertebrae from five adult C. leucas and laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS) for elemental composition from 23 C. leucas, including a pregnant female, were also used to trace ontogenetic habitat dependence. Acoustic telemetry indicated large juvenile and subadult C. leucas remained in estuarine habitats. 15N values across shark vertebrae showed an ontogenetic shift in diet with total length (TL), confirmed by stomach contents. LA-ICPMS data reflected the ontogenetic movements of C. leucas from natal habitats. Differences among adults were gender related. Shifts in habitat use by subadults were correlated with a sigmoidal 13C relationship with TL. C. leucas have a multipartite, stage-specific dependency in their transition between habitats along the freshwaterestuarinemarine continuum, making them particularly susceptible to the habitat alteration that is occurring globally. © 2011 CSIRO.


Werry J.M.,Griffith University | Werry J.M.,Ocean and Coast Research | Lee S.Y.,Griffith University | Lemckert C.J.,Griffith University | Otway N.M.,Port Stephens Fisheries Institute
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Background: Despite accelerated global population declines due to targeted and illegal fishing pressure for many top-level shark species, the impacts of coastal habitat modification have been largely overlooked. We present the first direct comparison of the use of natural versus artificial habitats for the bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas, an IUCN 'Near-threatened' species - one of the few truly euryhaline sharks that utilises natural rivers and estuaries as nursery grounds before migrating offshore as adults. Understanding the value of alternate artificial coastal habitats to the lifecycle of the bull shark is crucial for determining the impact of coastal development on this threatened but potentially dangerous species. Methodology/Findings: We used longline surveys and long-term passive acoustic tracking of neonate and juvenile bull sharks to determine the ontogenetic value of natural and artificial habitats to bull sharks associated with the Nerang River and adjoining canals on the Gold Coast, Australia. Long-term movements of tagged sharks suggested a preference for the natural river over artificial habitat (canals). Neonates and juveniles spent the majority of their time in the upper tidal reaches of the Nerang River and undertook excursions into adjoining canals. Larger bull sharks ranged further and frequented the canals closer to the river mouth. Conclusions/Significance: Our work suggests with increased destruction of natural habitats, artificial coastal habitat may become increasingly important to large juvenile bull sharks with associated risk of attack on humans. In this system, neonate and juvenile bull sharks utilised the natural and artificial habitats, but the latter was not the preferred habitat of neonates. The upper reaches of tidal rivers, often under significant modification pressure, serve as nursery sites for neonates. Analogous studies are needed in similar systems elsewhere to assess the spatial and temporal generality of this research. © 2012 Werry et al.


Clua E.,French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries | Chauvet C.,University of New Caledonia | Read T.,Griffith University | Werry J.M.,Griffith University | And 2 more authors.
Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology | Year: 2013

Tiger Sharks, Galeocerdo cuvier, are large top-level predators usually solitary as adults. Observation of their scavenging activity on the carcass of a dead whale offered a rare opportunity for better understanding the pattern of intra-specific behaviour within the aggregations of these large predators. In January 2002, the stranding, subsequent death and consumption of a 17.4 m total length (TL) blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus, was observed and filmed in Prony Bay, southern New Caledonia. After three weeks of confinement in the bay, the cetacean was killed by adult bullsharks Carcharhinus leucas. The first adult Tiger Shark was subsequently observed around the carcass after 36 h. The fat slicks from the carcass attracted further Tiger Sharks which arrived after an additional 24 h. The use of photo-identification on video footage collected during four observation sessions over an eight-day period identified 46 individual Tiger Sharks (primarily adult females between 3.3 and 4 m TL) participating in the feeding aggregation. Only four animals were identified in two seperate observation sessions (over two consecutive days), suggesting a short-term residency pattern of several hours (<36 h) around the carcass. As the arrival time of Tiger Sharks to the carcass differed, most arrivals of a new participant were followed by a frenzied period of intense intra-specific interaction. Different biting and agonistic behaviours were demonstrated by the Tiger Sharks on the carcass, including three new behaviours previously undescribed for this species. Size and level of aggressiveness appeared to be the determining factors of dominance amongst Tiger Sharks. These observations and analysis demonstrate that systematic study of feeding aggregations supported by photo-identification could contribute to knowledge of large shark ecology when coupled with capture-recapture, genetic fingerprinting and tagging techniques. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.


Clua E.,CNRS Insular Research Center and Environment Observatory | Chauvet C.,University of New Caledonia | Mourier J.,CNRS Insular Research Center and Environment Observatory | Werry J.M.,Griffith University | And 2 more authors.
Aquatic Living Resources | Year: 2015

This study determined the movements of a Giant Grouper, Epinephelus lanceolatus, in which an acoustic tag was surgically implanted and monitored by an array of six VR2W acoustic receiver units from August 2010 to January 2013 in the remote, uninhabited Chesterfield Islands, Coral Sea (800 km West of New Caledonia). Our data revealed a home reef area (residency rate of 44.9%) with an increased activity revealed by movements at dawn and dusk toward and between two adjacent reef passages, probably for foraging. The fish was absent from its resident reef between October and December 2010 and 2012, corresponding to the time known for spawning aggregations of this species in New Caledonia. A skipped spawning seems to have occurred in 2011. We hope these data will be complemented in the future by locating the spawning site or sites and thus provide adequate conservation measures. The Coral Sea links two World Heritage Sites, the Australian Great Barrier Reefs and the New Caledonian coral reefs. It would be fitting to create a Marine Protected Area for the Chesterfield Islands between these two major conservation areas of the sea. © EDP Sciences 2015.


Werry J.M.,Griffith University | Werry J.M.,Ocean and Coast Research | Clua E.,French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
Aquatic Living Resources | Year: 2013

Conservation of threatened large sharks and management of shark-human interactions requires an understanding of shark occurrence and movement patterns. Here, we present the first catch, movement and behaviour data of adult bull sharks, Carcharhinus leucas, in New Caledonia. Amongst six adult C. leucas tagged with passive acoustic tags, four females were caught in coastal waters while males were only found at an isolated oceanic barrier coral reef over 100 km from the nearest river mouth. Two females were monitored in the southern New Caledonia lagoon for 707 and 208 days respectively and displayed classical transient behaviour and sporadic short-term residency around a coastal reef bay, with movements in and out a river detected prior to spring. Adult C. leucas in New Caledonia may develop a sex-based spatial segregation with an atypical presence of adult males in oceanic environments, probably influenced by the unique estuarine-marine continuum of the New Caledonian great lagoon. © 2013 EDP Sciences, IFREMER, IRD.

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