Shark tracking to aid marine park design

A Charles Darwin University researcher with expertise in tracking marine animals has set up a study off the Western Australian coast to map the movements of reef sharks.

Dr Iain Field spent three weeks at the Rowley Shoals off the Kimberley coast tagging sharks and setting up receivers at coral reefs.

He says the information that is collected will be used in the design of new marine parks to protect reef sharks.

“[It will] give us some indication of how big these marine parks need to be for shark populations,” he said.

“If you conserve just one reef and the sharks move between a number of reefs then very little conservation effort is afforded to them.

“So by knowing their movements and their migration patterns it’ll give us a much more powerful tool to then help create some of these marine parks.”

He says little is known about shark movement patterns and the knowledge is vital information for their conservation.

“We’ve actually been deploying a number of acoustic tracking devices and receiver stations,” he said.

“Their presence is picked up and then over time we get a picture by building up all the receiver stations together, of when and where the animals move past the actual receiver stations, giving us an idea of their habitat use and migration patterns.”

Source: ABC News (Australia)