Project

Underwater shark surveillance

Species
  • Sharks
Years funded
  • 2014
Status
  • Archived
Project type
  • Research
Description

Shark-diving operators often use bait to attract sharks for tourists. Jeremy wants to know if this affects how sharks behave and what they eat. Using underwater cameras and tissue biopsies, he is finding the answers.

Underwater shark surveillance

Jeremy Kiszka

Project leader
About the project leader

I am a marine biologist at Florida International University (FIU), where I study the behaviour and ecological role of large marine vertebrates, including elasmobranchs, marine mammals (mostly cetaceans) and, more recently, sea turtles. I started investigating marine mammals in the late 1990s in French NGOs, when I was still in high school. I completed my PhD in 2010 at the University of La Rochelle (France), after spending five years in the Indian Ocean investigating dolphin community ecology and behaviour.
I began working on sharks in the Western Indian Ocean in 2009, conducting initial surveys and sampling programmes in Madagascar and...

PROJECT LOCATION : Moorea, French Polynesia
Project details

Impact of shark provisioning on the ecology of lemon sharks at Moorea (French Polynesia)

Key objective

This project aims to investigate the effect of provisioning on the feeding ecology, abundance and habitat use patterns of sicklefin lemon sharks in the waters surrounding Moorea, French Polynesia. Methods will combine stable isotope analyses and passive video camera recordings.

Why is this important

There is a need to understand the effects of shark provisioning, an activity that generates US$5.4-million annually (2005-2009) as part of the shark-diving industry in French Polynesia.

Background

Provisioning sharks and rays in their natural environment leads to increased population densities and allows for sustainable tourism. Shark diving provides a significant economic alternative to shark fishing with revenues benefiting several sectors of the economy, while ensuring the conservation of sharks. However, recent studies have highlighted that shark provisioning can significantly alter shark behaviour and local population characteristics, resulting in increased population densities and site fidelity, decreased body condition and shifts in trophic interactions, among other things.
In French Polynesia, sharks are provisioned daily during recreational diving operations around several islands. Between 2005 and 2009, the total annual shark-diving revenue was about US$5.4-million. However, significant behavioural changes have been observed in lemon sharks. In spite of movements in and out of the shark-diving (provisioning) area and maintenance of reproductive migrations, residency increased during the study, particularly among males, potentially increasing the risk of inbreeding due to reduced mobility.

Aims & objectives

The aims and objectives of this project are to:

  • Determine if shark provisioning has an effect on the dietary composition of sicklefin lemon sharks.
  • Gather abundance, behavioural and individual data on lemon sharks using video cameras.