Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Shark scavenging and predation on cetaceans at Abrolhos Bank, eastern Brazil

  • Hugo Bornatowski (a1) (a2), Leonardo L. Wedekin (a3), Michael R. Heithaus (a4), Milton César C. Marcondes (a3) and Marcos R. Rossi-Santos (a3)...

Abstract

Although it is largely assumed that shark predation and predation risk are unimportant to large cetaceans, whales can make up large portions of the diets of some shark species. We investigated interactions between sharks and cetaceans in the Abrolhos Bank (16°40′ to 19°40′S), off the eastern coast of Brazil, including scavenging and predation attempts on living humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). In order to determine the frequency of shark bites on cetaceans, both living and postmortem, we used carcasses discovered along the coast of Abrolhos Bank between 2001 and 2010 and photographs of living cetaceans during systematic and opportunistic visual surveys from 2004 to 2009. We analysed a total of 221 cetacean carcasses, of which 150 (67.8%) were humpback whales. Large sharks had fed on 22.3% (35 of 150) of humpback whales carcasses, and 20.8% (10 of 48) of carcasses of other species. Only three living humpback whales (<1%) had bite scars from large sharks, suggesting that they at least occasionally target living humpbacks. Cookiecutter shark bite marks also were observed on both dead and living cetaceans, with numerous living humpbacks showing multiple bites. The abundance of humpback whale carcasses available over the Abrolhos Bank, mainly during the humpback breeding season, may be an important component of shark diets seasonally. Further work is needed to better understand the frequency of shark attacks on mysticetes, potential costs of sublethal injuries, and importance of whales to shark diets.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: H. Bornatowski, Programa de Pós Graduação em Zoologia Universidade, Federal do Paraná, Caixa Postal 19020, CEP 81531-980 Curitiba, PR, Brasil email: anequim.bio@gmail.com

References

Hide All
Andriolo, A., Kinas, P., Engel, M.H., Martins, C.C.A. and Rufino, A.M. (2010) Humpback whales within the Brazilian breeding ground: distribution and size estimate. Endangered Species Research 11, 233243.
Bornatowski, H., Robert, M.C. and Costa, L. (2007) Data on the food of juvenile tiger shark, Galeocerdo cuvier (Péron & Lesueur) (Elasmobranchii, Carcharhinidae), from southern Brazil. Pan-American Journal of Aquatic Sciences 2, 1013.
Brown, A.C., Lee, D.E., Bradley, R.W. and Anderson, S. (2010) Dynamics of white shark predation on pinnipeds in California: effects of prey abundance. Copeia 2010, 232238.
Carey, F.G., Kanwisher, J.W., Brazier, O., Gabrielson, G., Casey, J.G. and Pratt, H.L. (1982) Temperature and activities of a white shark, Carcharodon carcharias. Copeia 1982, 254260.
Corkeron, P.J. and Connor, R.C. (1999) Why do baleen whales migrate? Marine Mammal Science 15, 12281245.
Cunha, C.M. and Gonzalez, M.B.M. (2000) Differentiation of the mutilation of Isistius brasiliensis (Quoy e Gaimard, 1824) and Squaliolus laticaudus Smith e Radcliffe, 1912 (Chondrichthyes, Squalidae) through the morphologic analysis of the mouth. Publicações Avulsas do Instituto Pau Brasil 3, 3139.
Dicken, M.L. (2008) First observations of young of the year and juvenile great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) scavenging from a whale carcass. Marine and Freshwater Research 59, 596602.
Dudley, S.F.J., Anderson-Reade, M.D., Thompson, G.S. and McMullen, P.B. (2000) Concurrent scavenging off a whale carcass by great white sharks, Carcharodon carcharias, and tiger sharks Galeocerdo cuvier. Fishery Bulletin 98, 646649.
Dutra, G.F., Allen, G.R., Werner, T. and McKenna, S.A. (2006) A rapid marine biodiversity assessment of the Abrolhos Bank, Bahia, Brazil. RAP Bulletin of Biological Assessment 38. Washington, DC: Conservation International.
Engel, M.H. and Martin, A.R. (2009) Feeding grounds of the western South Atlantic humpback whale population. Marine Mammal Science 25, 964969.
Evans, K., Morrice, M.G., Hindell, M.A. and Thiele, D. (2002) Three mass strandings of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in southern Australian waters. Marine Mammal Science 18, 622643.
Fitzpatrick, B., Meekan, M. and Richards, A. (2006) Shark attacks on a whale shark (Rhincodon typus) at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Bulletin of Marine Science 78, 397402.
Gasparini, J.L. and Sazima, I. (1996) A stranded melon-headed whale, Peponocephala electra, in southeastern Brazil, with comments on wounds from the cookiecutter shark, Isistius brasiliensis. Marine Mammal Science 12, 308312.
Heithaus, M.R. (2001a) Predator–prey and competitive interactions between sharks (order Selachii) and dolphins (suborder Odontoceti): a review. Journal of Zoology 253, 5368.
Heithaus, M.R. (2001b) Shark attacks on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in Shark Bay, Western Australia: attack rate, bite scar frequencies, and attack seasonality. Marine Mammal Science 17, 526539.
Heithaus, M.R. and Dill, L.M. (2006) Does tiger shark predation risk influence foraging habitat use by bottlenose dolphins at multiple spatial scales? Oikos 114, 257264.
IWC (1998) Annex G—Report of the sub-committee on comprehensive assessment of Southern Hemisphere humpback whales. Report of the International Whaling Commission 48, 170182.
Lodi, L. (1992) Uma história da caça à baleia. Ciência Hoje 14, 7883.
Long, D.J. and Jones, R.E. (1996) White shark predation and scavenging on cetaceans in the eastern North Pacific Ocean. In Klimley, A.P. and Ainley, D.G. (eds) Great white sharks: the biology of Carcharodon carcharias. New York: Academic Press, pp. 293307.
Lowry, D., Castro, A.L.F., Mara, K., Whitenack, L.B., Delius, B., Burgess, G.H. and Motta, P. (2009) Determining shark size from forensic analysis of bite damage. Marine Biology 156, 24832492.
Lucas, Z. and Stobo, W.T. (2000) Shark-inflicted mortality on a population of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) at Sable Island, Nova Scotia. Journal of Zoology 252, 405414.
Marshall, A.D. and Bennett, M.B. (2010) The frequency and effect of shark-inflicted bite injuries to the reef manta ray Manta alfredi. African Journal of Marine Science 32, 573580.
Mazzuca, L., Atkinson, S. and Nitta, E. (1998) Deaths and entanglements of humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, in the main Hawaiian islands, 1972–1996. Pacific Science 52, 113.
McSweeney, D.J., Baird, R.W. and Mahaffy, S.D. (2007) Site fidelity, associations and movements of Cuvier's (Ziphius cavirostris) and Blainville's (Mesoplodon densirostris) beaked whales off the island of Hawai‘i. Marine Mammal Science 23, 666687.
Meirelles, A.C.O., Monteiro-Neto, C., Martins, A.M.A., Costa, A.F., Barros, H.M.D.R. and Alves, M.D.O. (2009) Cetacean strandings on the coast of Ceará, north-eastern Brazil (1992–2005). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 89, 18.
Morete, M.E., Bisi, T.L., Pace III, R.M. and Rosso, S. (2008) Fluctuating abundance of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in a calving ground off coastal Brazil. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 88, 12291235.
Moura, R.L. and Francini-Filho, R.B. (2006) Reef and shore fishes of the Abrolhos Region, Brazil. In Dutra, G.F., Allen, G.R., Werner, T. and McKenna, S.A. (eds) A rapid marine biodiversity assessment of the Abrolhos Bank, Bahia, Brazil. RAP Bulletin of Biological Assessment 38. Washington, DC: Conservation International, pp. 4055.
Naessig, P. and Lanyon, J.M. (2004) Levels and probable origin of predatory scarring on humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in east Australian waters. Wildlife Research 31, 163170.
Papastamatiou, Y.P., Wetherbee, B.M., Sullivan, J.O., Goodmanlowe, G.D. and Lowe, C.G. (2010) Foraging ecology of cookiecutter sharks (Isistius brasiliensis) on pelagic fishes in Hawaii, inferred from prey bite wounds. Environmental Biology of Fishes 88, 361368.
Paterson, R.A., Quayle, C.J. and van Dyke, S.M. (1993) A humpback whale calf and two sub adult dense-beaked whales recently stranded in Southern Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 33, 219297.
Pretto, D.J., Andrade, M.C.M., Oliveira, J.M. and Oliveira, M.G.A. (2009) First record of a humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae (Borowski, 1781), stranding in Pará State, northern coast of Brazil. Brazilian Journal of Biology 69, 12071208.
Randall, J.E. (1992) Review of the biology of the tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier). Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43, 2131.
Rossi-Santos, M.R., Wedekin, L.L. and Sousa-Lima, R.S. (2006) Distribution and habitat use of small cetaceans off Abrolhos Bank, eastern Brazil. Latin American Journal of Aquatic Mammals 5, 2328.
Santos, M.C.O. and Gadig, O.B.F. (2009) Evidence of a failed predation attempt on a Guiana dolphin, Sotalia guianensis, by a bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas, in Brazilian waters. Arquivos de Ciências do Mar 43, 9398.
Silva, J.M., Silva, F.J.D.L., Sazima, C. and Sazima, I. (2007) Trophic relationships of the spinner dolphin at Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, SW Atlantic. Scientia Marina 71, 505511.
Simpfendorfer, C.A., Goodreid, A.B. and McAuley, R.B. (2001) Size, sex and geographic variation in the diet of the tiger shark, Galeocerdo cuvier, from Western Australian waters. Environmental Biology of Fishes 61, 3746.
Souto, L.R.A., Abrão-Oliveira, J.G.A., Nunes, J.A.C.C., Maia-Nogueira, R. and Sampaio, C.L. S. (2007) Análise das mordidas de tubarões-charuto, Isistius spp. (Squaliformes: Dalatiidae) em cetáceos (Mammalia: Cetacea) no litoral da Bahia, Nordeste do Brasil. Biotemas 20, 1925.
Wedekin, L.L., Neves, M.C., Marcondes, M.C.C., Baracho, C., Rossi-Santos, M.R., Engel, M.H. and Simões-Lopes, P.C. (2010) Site fidelity and movements of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) on the Brazilian breeding ground, southwestern Atlantic. Marine Mammal Science 26, 787802.
Wirsing, A.J., Heithaus, M.R. and Dill, L.M. (2007) Can measures of prey availability improve our ability to predict the abundance of large marine predators? Oecologia 153, 563568.
Wirsing, A.J., Heithaus, M.R., Frid, A. and Dill, L.M. (2008) Seascapes of fear: evaluating sublethal predator effects experienced and generated by marine mammals. Marine Mammal Science 24, 115.

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed