Oceanic whitetips close to home

Oceanic whitetip shark. Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons- Cold Water Diver

NASSAU (BAHAMAS)- Research indicated that although their reputation for being open ocean dwellers oceanic whitetip sharks (Carcharhinus longimanus ) spend most of their lives in a certain area. In the case of a research by an US-led team of marine biologists, the Bahamas.

The researchers also found that the sharks spent about 68 percent of their time in Bahamian waters, which is good news for conservationists since the Bahamas have strictly protected the sharks for the past two decades.The oceanic whitetip shark is one of the most severely overexploited shark species, it is also among the least studied because it lives much of its life far from land in the open ocean.

According to their report in the online journal PLOS ONE, the team attached tracking tags to one male and 10 female mature oceanic whitetip sharks near the Bahamas in May 2011 and recorded the sharks’ behavior over several different intervals. The tags transmitted their depth, water temperature and location for pre-programmed periods of time.

The team found that five of the sharks made long-distance travels far away from the chain of tropical islands, with one even traveling as far out as Bermuda. All of these were mature female sharks that eventually returned to the Bahamas, providing the first evidence of return-migration for these large marine predators. Before this study very few of these sharks had been fitted with satellite tags, and the data the team obtained will help establish new conservation measures.