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Alice Della Penna

Research Associate






Ph.D. Quantitative Marine Science, University of Tasmania, 2016

Ph.D. Interdisciplinary approaches to Life Sciences, Paris Diderot University, 2016

M.Sc. Physics of Complex Systems, University of Turin, 2012

B.Sc. Physics, University of Turin, 2010


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Mesoscale eddies influence the movements of mature female white sharks in the Gulf Stream and Sargasso Sea

Gaube, P., C.D. Braun, G.L. Lawson, D.J. McGillicuddy Jr., A. Della Penna, G.B. Skomal, C. Fischer, and S.R. Thorrold, "Mesoscale eddies influence the movements of mature female white sharks in the Gulf Stream and Sargasso Sea," Sci. Rep., 8, 7363, doi:10.1038/s41598-018-25565-8, 2018.

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9 May 2018

Satellite-tracking of mature white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) has revealed open-ocean movements spanning months and covering tens of thousands of kilometers. But how are the energetic demands of these active apex predators met as they leave coastal areas with relatively high prey abundance to swim across the open ocean through waters often characterized as biological deserts? Here we investigate mesoscale oceanographic variability encountered by two white sharks as they moved through the Gulf Stream region and Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic Ocean. In the vicinity of the Gulf Stream, the two mature female white sharks exhibited extensive use of the interiors of clockwise-rotating anticyclonic eddies, characterized by positive (warm) temperature anomalies. One tagged white shark was also equipped with an archival tag that indicated this individual made frequent dives to nearly 1,000 m in anticyclones, where it was presumably foraging on mesopelagic prey. We propose that warm temperature anomalies in anticyclones make prey more accessible and energetically profitable to adult white sharks in the Gulf Stream region by reducing the physiological costs of thermoregulation in cold water. The results presented here provide valuable new insight into open ocean habitat use by mature, female white sharks that may be applicable to other large pelagic predators.

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center