Seasonal spatial segregation in blue sharks

Published on
27. May 2019

Seasonal spatial segregation in blue sharks (Prionace glauca) by sex and size class in the Northeast Pacific Ocean

Sara M. Maxwell, Kylie L. Scales, Steven J. Bograd, Dana K. Briscoe, Heidi Dewar, Elliott L. Hazen, Rebecca L. Lewison, Heather Welch, Larry B. Crowder



Animal tracking can provide unique insights into the ecology and conservation of marine species, such as the partitioning of habitat, including differences between life history stages or sexes, and can inform fisheries stock assessments, bycatch reduction and spatial management such as dynamic management.


Northeast Pacific Ocean.


We used satellite tracking data from 47 blue sharks (Prionace glauca) from the Northeast Pacific to determine movements and home range along the west coast of North America, and sex–size class (immature females, mature males) specific habitat preferences using boosted regression trees. Using a suite of static and dynamic environmental variables, we determined distribution and habitat preferences across summer and fall for each sex–size class.


We found that there was spatial segregation between sex–size classes particularly in the summer months with immature females found largely north of 33°N, and males south of 35°N. In fall, females travelled south, resulting in an overlap in distributions south of 37°N. Sea surface temperature (SST), latitude and longitude were top predictors. However, immature females and adult males demonstrated unique habitat preferences including SST, with immature females preferring cooler temperatures (SST < 15°C) than adult males in summer, and a broader band of SST than adult males in fall. All models performed well, explaining 50%–67% of deviance, and 23%–41% of deviance when predictions were cross‐validated.

Main conclusions

We provide first insights into coastal movements and habitat preferences of blue sharks in the Northeast Pacific. We found that immature females undergo a seasonal southward migration in this more coastal habitat, similar to patterns observed in the North Atlantic. We also found some overlap between adult males and immature females in fall months, suggesting the importance of more coastal habitat in managing this species, particularly in determining population structure for blue shark stock assessments, and reducing blue shark bycatch.



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