Swim speeds and inferred field metabolic rates in juvenile white sharks

Published on
09 June 2022

High resolution acoustic telemetry reveals swim speeds and inferred field metabolic rates in juvenile white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias)

James M. Anderson ,Emily Spurgeon, Brian S. Stirling, Jack May III, Patrick. T. Rex, Bobby Hyla, Steve McCullough, Marten Thompson, Christopher G. Lowe


White sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) are the largest shark species to display regional endothermy. This capability likely facilitates exploitation of resources beyond thermal tolerance thresholds of potential sympatric competitors as well as sustained elevated swim speeds, but results in increased metabolic costs of adults, which has been documented in different studies. Little, however, is known of the metabolic requirements in free-swimming juveniles of the species, due to their large size at birth and challenges in measuring their oxygen consumption rates in captivity. We used trilateration of positional data from high resolution acoustic-telemetry to derive swim speeds from speed-over-ground calculations for eighteen free-swimming individual juvenile white sharks, and subsequently estimate associated mass-specific oxygen consumption rates as a proxy for field routine metabolic rates. Resulting estimates of mass-specific field routine metabolic rates (368 mg O2 kg−1 h−1 ± 27 mg O2 kg−1 h−1 [mean ± S.D.]) are markedly lower than those reported in sub-adult and adult white sharks by previous studies. We argue that median cruising speeds while aggregating at nearshore nursery habitats (0.6 m s-1 [mean ± S.E = 0.59 ± 0.001], 0.3 TL s-1) are likely a feature of behavioral strategies designed to optimize bioenergetic efficiency, by modulating activity rates in response to environmental temperature profiles to buffer heat loss and maintain homeostasis. Such behavioral strategies more closely resemble those exhibited in ectotherm sharks, than mature conspecifics.

PLoS ONE 17(6): e0268914, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0268914


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