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Diving behaviour of whale sharks in relation to a predictable food pulse

By R T Graham, C M Roberts and J C R Smart

Abstract

We present diving data for four whale sharks in relation to a predictable food pulse (reef fish spawn) and an analysis of the longest continuous fine-resolution diving record for a planktivorous shark. Fine-resolution pressure data from a recovered pop-up archival satellite tag deployed for 206 days on a whale shark were analysed using the fast Fourier Transform method for frequency domain analysis of time-series. The results demonstrated that a free-ranging whale shark displays ultradian, diel and circa-lunar rhythmicity of diving behaviour. Whale sharks dive to over 979.5 m and can tolerate a temperature range of 26.4 degrees C. The whale sharks made primarily diurnal deep dives and remained in relatively shallow waters at night. Whale shark diving patterns are influenced by a seasonally predictable food source, with shallower dives made during fish spawning periods

Year: 2006
DOI identifier: 10.1098/rsif.2005.0082
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.whiterose.ac.uk:1322

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