Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type

Legacy Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies


Coastal and Marine Systems Science


College of Science

First Advisor

Sharon L. Gilman

Second Advisor

Daniel C. Abel

Third Advisor

Robert F. Young


Usage of a coastal estuary in South Carolina by blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus, was examined using acoustic telemetry from June to September 2009. Acoustic monitoring data were used to define residency and movement patterns in North Santee Estuary, SC. Sharks were detected for 1-45 days with individuals frequently moving in and out of the monitored area. Monitored sharks showed a great deal of variability in residency, with sharks utilizing the estuary for 1-39 consecutive days. The majority of incursions into the estuary lasted less than 12 hours, but sharks did remain in the estuary continuously for up to 173 hours. Sharks swimming direction was strongly correlated with tidal stage. Sharks entered the area on incoming and high tides, and exited on outgoing and low tides. No preference towards time of day was found for area use, with tagged sharks spending a proportionate period of time in the study site during day and night. Sharks also preferred to enter and exit the area during the day, but only exits showed significant differences. Swimming speeds of blacktip sharks using passive acoustic telemetry found that maximum swimming speed was near that of other observed swimming speeds of similarly sized carcharhinid sharks, and was found to be an acceptable method for estimating swimming speed in the wild when general swimming direction and path are known. The movement and residence patterns of blacktip sharks suggest that individuals range from transient users to near-seasonal residents in the estuary.