Tiger Sharks Behave like Birds?
Tiger sharks are among the most recognizable sharks on the planet, and yet many of their habits remain a mystery because they are long-distance travelers whose movements are difficult to track. They were long believed to be a coastal species; however, after following several tiger shark for more than two years with satellite tags, a team has shown otherwise.
The studied sharks traveled more than 7,500 kilometers (4,660 miles, round-trip) every year between two vastly different ecosystems - the coral reefs of the Caribbean and the open waters of the mid-North Atlantic. Furthermore, they returned consistently to the same overwintering areas each year, a discovery that could help with conservation efforts.
"As apex predators, the presence of tiger sharks - and other large sharks - is vital to maintain the proper health and balance of our oceans," Dr. Mahmood Shivji of NSU, who helped lead the study, said in a statement. "That's why it's so important to conserve them, and understanding their migratory behavior is essential to achieving this goal."
During the study, the NSU team successfully tagged and tracked tiger sharks near Bermuda, following their every move. One tiger shark even swam more than 44,000 kilometers (27,000 miles) - that's the longest track distance ever documented for a tiger shark.
More importantly, researchers found that during their annual migrations, male sharks in the Atlantic repeatedly spent their winters in Caribbean island locales, whereas during summers they would travel far north, even reaching Connecticut. These migrations curiously more resemble those of birds, which are known for traveling hundreds of miles annually.