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News no tags 12 Mar 2019

Galapagos shark movement patterns at Lord Howe Island

Identifying Galapagos shark movement patterns, interactions with fishing vessels and residency in Lord Howe Island Marine Park

 

SIMS' Animal Tracking Facility have recently returned from Lord Howe Island where they assisted in the deployment of acoustic receivers to support a research project led by Johnathan Mitchell from the University of Western Australia, in collaboration with NSW Department of Primary Industries, NSW Marine Parks, and Parks Australia. 

 

This research seeks to identify the movement patterns and residency of Galapagos sharks in Lord Howe Island Marine Park (LHIMP) over an annual timescale, by deploying a series of acoustic receivers at key locations around the island, as well as from fishing vessels.  

 

This will enable assessment of the movements of tagged sharks and how they overlap with the presence and activity of fishing vessels.

 

In addition, the project aims to assess whether differences in movement and residency exist between sharks which predominantly inhabit sanctuary zones and those which interact with fishing vessels in fished areas. Likewise, by collecting ancillary oceanographic data, this research will quantify the importance of a range of environmental parameters, such as water temperature, current patterns and productivity, on the movements of sharks.

 

By mapping these differences, as well as potential seasonal variations in shark movements, the research will collect vital ecological information on this species, which is a key apex predator in the LHIMP. Additionally, assessing overlap in shark and fishing vessel movements will provide information for fishers and marine park managers that can be directly used to mitigate negative shark interactions.

 

Overall, this project will generate vital information on the ecology of Galapagos sharks and their management in relation to recreational fisheries, as well as new oceanographic data for this isolated island ecosystem, which is globally significant due to its unique oceanographic conditions and high levels of biodiversity and endemism.