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New research- Sharks enjoy long distance travel too

by Qld Fisheries on 6 Nov 2012
Shark - research shows many travel, some prefer living local. .. ©
Research conducted on shark movements in Queensland waters has found some sharks swim long distances, while others stay local, just like humans.

Head scientist on the Queensland Large Shark Tagging Program, Dr Jonathan Werry said acoustic and satellite tagging had monitored sharks travelling as far away as Papua New Guinea.

'A 3m dusky whaler that was originally captured in Northern NSW and then released on the Gold Coast by Seaworld was tracked significant distances out into the Coral Sea, and last recorded around 380km south of PNG,' Dr Werry said.

'Large whalers have also been tracked with satellite tags out to the Coral Sea and then back to the Fraser Coast.

'A 3.5m dusky whaler was tagged off Moreton Bay, and has since moved down south to New South Wales near Montague Island.

'We’ve found sharks can cover significant distances in a day, with two great white sharks tagged last year travelling about 60-100km / day.

'But there are also some sharks who have shown consistent local movement, such as bull sharks which have been tracked between the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.

'However, results have also been surprising, with two bull sharks tagged on the Gold Coast recently detected off Cairns, with one of them then returning to Bundaberg.'

Dr Werry said 71 sharks are currently being tracked, and the findings reflect the very different migratory patterns of shark species.

'Bull, tiger and great white sharks all occur in the nearshore marine environment where Shark Control Program equipment is in place, but they have different migratory patterns,' he said.

'Great whites generally move from Victoria all the way up the Queensland coast, across to New Zealand and up to New Caledonia.

'The complete lifecycle of tiger sharks takes place in the marine environment and they can migrate up to thousands of kilometres, while bull sharks travel between rivers and offshore coastal areas as part of their lifecycle.'

The Large Shark Tagging Program is a research project that tracks the movement of some of the State’s most dangerous species, and is partly funded by the Queensland Government.

Shark Control Program Manager Jeff Krause said the data on shark movements gives us a better understanding of the behaviour of dangerous shark species.

'This will allow us to improve our Shark Control Program to better protect our Queensland beaches,' Mr Krause said

'The aim of the Shark Control Program is to reduce the number of potentially dangerous sharks in particular areas, making it a safer place to swim.

'By understanding shark movements and the physical conditions that correlate with their movements into beach areas, we can identify periods of higher risk to humans and minimise impact on non-target marine species.

'Sharks are a natural part of the marine environment and when people enter the water they need to remember they are entering their domain.

'People should be discerning when choosing where and when they swim, obey lifeguards’ advice, and heed all sign and safety warnings.'

For the full list of swimmer safety tips and information on the Shark Control Program, visit www.fisheries.qld.gov.au

Follow Fisheries Queensland on Facebook and Twitter (@FisheriesQld).
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