Skip to main content
Are Tiger Sharks Reef Sharks or Pelagic Sharks? Movements of Tiger Sharks in the Western North Atlantic
Oceanography Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures
  • Bradley M. Wetherbee, Nova Southeastern University
  • Guy Harvey, Nova Southeastern University
  • Neil Burney, Bermuda Shark Project
  • Choy Aming, Bermuda Shark Project
  • Shara Marie Teter, Nova Southeastern University
  • Mahmood S. Shivji, Nova Southeastern University
Event Name/Location
American Elasmobranch Society 27th Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN, July 6-11, 2011
Document Type
Conference Proceeding
Publication Date
The tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) is a large, far-ranging species that exhibits a variety of movement patterns depending on location and season. These sharks are managed by NMFS as part of the “large coastal” species complex under the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan, but are occasionally observed far at sea and caught in pelagic fisheries. To investigate movements of tiger sharks, we tagged 26 individuals in Bermuda in late summer of 2009 and 2010 with fin-mounted “spot” satellite transmitters. Although a number of sharks made fairly rapid (~2 weeks) and straight-line moves from Bermuda to the Bahamas, other sharks followed meandering paths eventually reaching the Bahamas after several months. Several smaller individuals remained in Bermuda over the winter. Some sharks spent the winter months moving within relatively small, near shore areas within the Bahamas, and subsequently moved north into pelagic waters where they remained during summer months. Other sharks left the Bahamas a short time after arrival, moving into pelagic waters during winter months. Several individuals tracked over consecutive winters (>19 months) occupied similar wintering areas within the Bahamas. North-south seasonal movements for many sharks appeared to be related to water temperature, with the majority of time spent at 24-28oC. Most sharks demonstrated the ability to seamlessly shift between pelagic and insular habitats spending approximately equal time in both environments. Although movements vary substantially among individuals, tiger sharks demonstrate high mobility trophically connecting widespread and disparate marine ecosystems in the Western North Atlantic.
Citation Information
Bradley M. Wetherbee, Guy Harvey, Neil Burney, Choy Aming, et al.. "Are Tiger Sharks Reef Sharks or Pelagic Sharks? Movements of Tiger Sharks in the Western North Atlantic" (2011)
Available at: