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Dramatic declines in reef shark populations have been documented worldwide in response to human activities. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) offer a useful mechanism to protect these species and their roles in coral reef ecosystems. The effectiveness of MPAs notably relies on compliance together with sufficient size to encompass animal home range. Here, we measured home range of 147 grey reef sharks, Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos, using acoustic telemetry in New Caledonia. The distribution of home range was then compared to local MPA sizes. We report a home range of 12 km2 of reef for the species with strong differences between adult males (21 km2), adult females (4.4 km2) and juveniles (6.2 km2 for males, 2.7 km2 for females). Whereas local historic MPA size seemed adequate to protect reef shark home range in general, these were clearly too small when considering adult males only, which is consistent with the reported failure of MPAs to protect sharks in New Caledonia. Fortunately, the recent implementation of several orders of magnitude larger MPAs in New Caledonia and abroad show that recent Indo-Pacific MPAs are now sufficiently large to protect the home ranges of this species, including males, across its geographical range. However, protection efforts are concentrated in a few regions and cannot provide adequate protection at a global scale.
Bonnin, Lucas; Mouillot, David; Boussarie, Germain; Robbins, William D.; Kiszka, Jeremy J.; Dagorn, Laurent; and Vigliola, Laurent, "Recent expansion of marine protected areas matches with home range of grey reef sharks" (2021). All Faculty. 270.