Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Christopher R. Perle

Hopkins Marine Station
Stanford University

The influence of oceanic ecosystems on the migrations
of large marine predators in the Northeast Pacific Ocean.

Wednesday — July 13, 2011
Pacific Forum — 3:00 p.m.

Research on the relationships between large marine consumers and their environments informs “ecosystem-based management” and illuminates how future ecosystem changes might impact important fisheries and protected species. The electronic tagging of two large endothermic predators in the Northeast Pacific Ocean, Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) and the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) has provided opportunities to investigate the importance of seasonal ecosystem changes in the timing, duration, and success of migrations away from the California Current. Changing oceanographic conditions- as evidenced by satellite, climatological and buoy data- limit habitat quality in space and time, reducing spawning migration success in Pacific bluefin tuna and access to important pelagic habitats for white sharks. Seasonality of key ecosystem components (e.g., temperature, productivity, and stratification) is linked to meteorological forcing and thus subject to long-term climatic variability via in situ warming and teleconnections between atmospheric high pressure systems. These changes may create downstream ecosystem effects, thus altering the migration and reproductive dynamics of these important predators.

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