Migration of Sharks

Part of the allure of studying sharks is that they have been such mysteries to mankind for so long. As scientists continue to monitor and study them, every facet of information gleaned is another piece in the complex puzzle.

Until the tracking of these animals began, almost nothing was known about whether they migrated and, if they did, for what purpose. although much information is still required for a clear understanding of their movements and motivations, scientists have been able to document the migration of certain species.


In terms of migratory habits, sharks can be divided into three groups; 1) local sharks, 2) coastal pelagic sharks and 3) highly pelagic sharks.

LOCAL SHARKS are those that do not migrate at all. They stay within approximately 160 kilometres (or 100 miles) of a central point. Local sharks include the Nurse Shark and the Bonnethead.

COASTAL PELAGIC SHARKS will migrate along the shallower waters for a distance of over 1600 kilometres, or 1000 miles. This may be to follow certain currents or in search of food. Examples include the Oceanic Blacktip, Tiger and Sandbar sharks.

HIGHLY PELAGIC SHARKS describe such species as the Blue Shark and the Mako Shark, both of which will follow currents across oceanic borders.

Tagging and satellite tracking play a major role in determining the movements of the wild sharks in the ocean. Such tracking has helped scientists to follow a shark from South Africa all the way to the waters of Australia. Such long-distance travels require an enormous amount of flexibility in a group of fish that are rather sensitive to water temperature, the availability of certain types of prey and stress.

Revealing even this limited information on just one aspect of sharks: lives and habitats has already opened the gateway to a flood of further questions that need to be answered.