Fisheries Research Articles

Dusky sharks (Carcharhinus obscurus) undertake large-scale migrations between tropical and temperate ecosystems

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal Title

Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences


Print: 0706-652X Electronic: 1205-7533


Aquaculture and Fisheries | Marine Biology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology


Understanding the large-scale migrations of marine predators can allow better representation of their population dynamics. The migration biology of dusky sharks (Carcharhinus obscurus), a cosmopolitan large marine predator with very low resilience to fishing, was quantified using a large-scale network of acoustic receivers deployed across Western Australia. Time-series plotting of individual shark detections and modified logistic modelling were used to determine the timing of acoustically tagged sharks’ seasonal migration, the proportion of the population migrating, and the size at which sharks start to migrate. Large (>200 cm fork length) dusky sharks migrated between areas closed (north) and open (south) to commercial shark fishing. There was limited evidence that smaller sharks occurred in the northern study area, whereas several larger individuals of both sexes undertook repeated north–south displacements, moving between disparate ecosystems within the Indian Ocean (21.7°S–35.4°S) and covering round-trip distances of 2000–3000 km per migratory event. For migrating individuals, the probability of occurring in the north was high in the austral winter–spring and low (males) to moderate (females) during the austral summer–autumn.