Tiger sharks are big movers

Tags on tiger sharks show they go much farther than previously believed.

WA research has uncovered extraordinary details about the movements of tiger sharks with evidence suggesting their local range extends thousands of kilometres from Indonesia to Esperance.

Despite common beliefs that tiger sharks are almost exclusively a tropical water species, scientists have found they are capable of travelling vast distances in often colder climates.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science, WA's Fisheries Department, the University of WA and CSIRO have been carrying out a program aiming to break new ground in the understanding of the species.

Since the monitoring program began in 2005, AIMS principal research scientist Mark Meekan said 11 tiger sharks had been tagged with transmitters to give their locations.

The tags also recorded the depths to which the sharks dived and water temperature.

The findings were remarkable, Dr Meekan said.

One shark tagged off Ningaloo, known as shark five, travelled more than 4000km over 517 days and migrated between Indonesia and Esperance - a place usually associated with great white sharks.

The tiger sharks were also found to dive as deep as 300m in tropical waters, though they stayed much closer to the surface the further south they went.

Asked why tiger sharks went as far as Albany and Esperance when their usual habitat was thousands of kilometres away, Dr Meekan said that like much to do with the species, this was uncertain.

One theory was they followed the Leeuwin Current when it flowed around the State's South West corner.

Another held that they were following tropical water species such as turtles, which would slow down in the cooler waters off WA's south and be easier to "pick off".

"We know a little bit about them, for example, what they're doing in areas like tropical reefs, but these are very unstudied creatures," Dr Meekan said.

"We don't really know where they're going or what they're doing."

Dr Meekan said several local scientists would join US shark research group OCEARCH to do further tagging off WA in April and May.