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Determining the Influence of Environmental Factors on the Movements of the Greenland Shark

Project Collaborators:

Jeffrey Gallant (GEERG.ca)

Chris Harvey-Clark (GEERG.ca)

Boris Worm (Dalhousie University)

Michael Stokesbury (Acadia University)

Project Status:

In Progress

Type of Initiative:

Research and Conservation

Project Location:

St. Lawrence Estuary and Gulf, Saguenay Fjord

For which Shark Species:

Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus)

Project Description:

Environmental concerns about the current population level and overall state of the Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus) in the St. Lawrence and Saguenay systems as well as the recent discovery of a rare and easily accessible Greenland shark ‘hotspot’ have made it necessary to study the regional distribution and habitat preference of this highly enigmatic and little studied species. The aim of this research project is to determine the distribution of S. microcephalus in the St. Lawrence and Saguenay systems by studying its movements over a period of 5 years from a known regional aggregation found off Baie-Comeau, Quebec. Acoustic and satellite telemetry tags will be deployed on several specimens in the Baie-Comeau area in order to record the sharks’ daily movements over a period of at least five years starting in 2010. Data from a previous study, as well as historical and fisheries data (including by-catch) and public sightings (including observations by sport divers) will be used in order to produce spatial and seasonal distribution maps for S. microcephalus in the St. Lawrence and Saguenay systems covering the last century. S. microcephalus has been recorded in the St. Lawrence since 1884 and previous research by GEERG in the Baie-Comeau area and in the Saguenay Fjord has unequivocally demonstrated the high potential for innovative scientific research of this elusive species, as well as a reduction of by-catch.

Previous Work:

Stokesbury, M.J.W., C. Harvey-Clark, J. Gallant, B.A. Block, and R.A. Myers. 2005. Movement and environmental preferences of Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus) electronically tagged in the St. Lawrence Estuary, Canada. Marine Biology.

Gallant, J., Harvey-Clark, C., Myers, R.A., Stokesbury, M.J.W. 2005. Sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) attached to a Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus) in the St. Lawrence Estuary, Canada. Northeastern Naturalist 13(1), p. 35-38.

Harvey-Clark, C., Gallant, J., Batt, J. 2005. Vision and its relationship to novel behaviour in St. Lawrence River Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus). The Canadian Field-Naturalist, vol. 119, no 3.

Contact Information:

Jeffrey Gallant
Director / Directeur
Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education & Research Group
Groupe d'étude sur les élasmobranches et le requin du Groenland
web: www.geerg.ca
email: info@geerg.ca

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