Project

Cayman sharks

Species
  • Marine Mammals
  • Sharks
Years funded
  • 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Status
  • Archived
Project type
  • Research
Description

Sharks are not popular in the Cayman Islands. Mauvis is conducting the first shark surveys in the area and fostering public support for the animals, leading to protective measures and even a ‘shark beer’ on which islanders could read conservation messages.

Cayman sharks

Mauvis Gore

Project leader
About the project leader
I come from Jamaica, where the Caribbean has been overfished and sharks are feared. Being surrounded by sea and the amazing life in it was hugely inspiring for me. I love being in the ocean, the feeling of being carried along, the colours, the wind and waves, and the interactions of the marine animals. As a family we spent a lot of time in or by the sea and my father had a strong influence on my curiosity about what I saw, how it worked and how it fitted into the ecosystem – a curiosity that led me to study...
PROJECT LOCATION : Cayman Islands
All news about this project
By Mauvis Gore, 20th November 2011
Whales, Sting Rays and Tiger Sharks!
Our field season is here and a sperm whale has been sighted off the south coast of Grand Cayman last week. Almost as exciting, Cayman “Pirates’ Week” has begun and I spent the first afternoon on our partner’s (the Department of Environment), parade float dressed…
By Mauvis Gore, 17th February 2011
Tina the Tiger and the North Sound, Grand Cayman
Stingray City is a famous site that attracts thousands of tourists both to see and be in the water with southern stingrays (Dasyatis americana) that arrive to take advantage of being hand fed. The site is on a shallow sand bar located in Grand Cayman’s…
By Mauvis Gore, 9th December 2010
Tina the Tiger on Top of the World
Well, on top of the ocean anyway. Great excitement among the team. Our tiger shark that we satellite tagged on Saturday (provisionally nick-named TINA) has already been picked up by the satellite network 3 times, on each occasion within several km of the original tagging…
By Mauvis Gore, 5th December 2010
HOT NEWS: Team Tags Tiger
8.00 p.m. last night, and at last, we caught a beautiful 3.5 m tiger shark on one of our lines. She behaved beautifully while the team (myself, Oliver Dubock and Luiza Neves) and were able to kit her out, not only with an acoustic tag,…
By Mauvis Gore, 1st December 2010
Patterns Emerging Despite (because of?) Rough Seas!
Another couple of weeks doing our best to get the main batch of shark and dolphin survey work completed. We have had persistent winds from the north-east, force 4 or 5, making it impossible to do long-line or BRUV (Baited Remote Underwater Video) sampling for…
By Mauvis Gore, 15th November 2010
Cayman Sharks Go Sonic!
Strange: we have had a frustrating week in terms of weather – day after day of force 4 and 5 winds from the north-east preventing us from getting out in the boat much – yet suddenly the findings of the project have begun to take…
Project details

Cayman Islands shark project: achieving protective legislation

Key objective

This project will investigate movements of reef shark species around the Cayman Islands, the effects of attracting reef sharks for shark tourism, and the feasibility of tracking larger, potentially dangerous sharks to provide a real-time alert system at sensitive tourist areas. The occurrence of certain cetacean species in offshore areas will also be investigated.

Why is this important

This project study will greatly assist the Cayman Islands in protecting the key components of their marine biodiversity and in supporting sustainable, economically beneficial use of these iconic species.

Background

More than 90% of the world’s shark populations have been lost over the past 20 years, largely due to illegal fishing. In the Cayman Islands, as the marine environment has been better managed than in most areas, there is the opportunity to ensure that endangered species are not lost. However, there is very little reliable information about local shark species, their populations and the pressures they face.
For this project, our research team will assist the Cayman’s Department of Environment with surveys around all three Cayman islands and will build on the department’s efforts to establish a public sightings scheme for recording observations of sharks, whales and dolphins. To do this, we will use sonic and satellite tagging, baited remote underwater video (BRUV) systems and offshore aerial surveys. Additionally, we hope to expand on local efforts to better understand what species of whales and dolphins use Caymans’ waters as part of their home ranges or seasonal migratory routes.

The project will emphasise collaboration with local fishermen, dive operators and boat owners who will be invited to share their knowledge and report sightings of sharks, whales and dolphins to the Department of the Environment. The project is jointly funded by the UK Overseas Territory Environment Programme, the Save Our Seas Foundation and the Cayman Islands Department of the Environment.

Aims & objectives

The aims and objectives of this project are to:

  • Tag 50 medium-sized sharks with sonic and conventional numbered tags around the Cayman Islands.
  • Tag 10 of the less common, large shark species with sonic, satellite and conventional numbered tags during intensive tagging campaigns. Movement of these sharks will be monitored via sonic receivers and via satellite.
  • Use BRUVs to study the effects of provisioning at locations around the three islands. The BRUVs will detect any increase in number or activity of sharks as a result of artificial provisioning at the experimental site.
  • Deploy additional receivers to supplement the existing acoustic receiver network around the three islands. These will be set at a series of additional locations, notably near tourist sites and where the experimental provisioning will be undertaken.
  • Test an alert system harnessing mobile receivers, which provide real-time detections, deployed by Department of Environment staff.
  • Conduct offshore aerial surveys.
  • Conduct an environmental-economic assessment through desk studies of comparable locations elsewhere, economic assessment of the SCUBA diving industry in the Caymans, and interviewing and contingency evaluation of the potential add-on benefit of shark-watching activities.
  • Disseminate results via formal reports to the Department of Environment, scientific papers and popular media.