Movements and residency of Caribbean reef sharks at a remote atoll in Belize

Published on
11 August 2021

Movements and residency of Caribbean reef sharks at a remote atoll in Belize, Central America

Ivy E. Baremore, Rachel T. Graham, George H. Burgess, Daniel W. Castellanos


We investigated spatial use patterns of 77 Caribbean reef sharks (Carcharhinus perezi) at Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Belize over 7 years using residency patterns, kernel density (KD) estimation and network analysis. We found a high degree individual variation in spatial use of the atoll, but there were significant differences in residency and activity space between sexes, with females being overall more resident. Ontogenetic shifts in movement and residency were largely limited to females, as the residency index increased and activity space estimates decreased as females matured, while for males there was no relationship between space use or residency and size. KD analysis revealed many mature females were highly resident to discrete locations, and average activity space of the intermediate-sized sharks was significantly larger than that of the adults, but not the smallest sharks. Markov chain analyses indicated that the southwestern portion of the atoll was the most important movement corridor for all sharks. Both the Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye Natural Monuments provide some protection for larger Caribbean reef sharks; however, a gear ban on longlines on the southwestern forereef between Long Caye and the channel entrance to the Blue Hole would maximize the benefits for all sharks.

Royal Society Open Science, DOI: 10.1098/rsos.201036


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