Ocean News

Cape Eleuthera Institute

17th March 2009

So, its time for the next part of our journey. We’re now in back in Palm Beach, and we’re going to be heading back to a different part of the Bahamas tomorrow. I know what you’re thinking, why didn’t we just stay in the Bahamas rather than coming back to the states? Just trust me, it was cheaper and easier logistically doing things this way.

We’re off to an Island called Eleuthera, which is east of Nassau (capital of the Bahamas). As well as being home to rock startLenny Kravitz, the island is also home to the Cape Eleuthra Institute, and we’re going to be documenting a shark research project that SOSF is sponsoring there. The project is testing an innovative method of surveying shark populations, called baited remote underwater video surveys, or BRUVS. This involves installing a basic underwater video camera onto a metal frame, which also has a bait container on it. The frame is placed underwater, the bait attracts sharks, and allows you to monitor what species sharks can be found in a given area without there being any disturbance from divers  which could otherwise affect what the results. Just think of it as an underwater CCTV camera.

Traditional methods of surveying shark populations are long-line surveys, where sharks are caught on baited hooks. Although this method yield’s a richer set of data (researchers are able to gather information on size, sex, and also are able to tag the animals) it’s a lot more invasive, and there also sometimes a small level of mortality. Despite this, its essential work; without knowing numbers and movement patterns of sharks, it’s impossible to implement conservation measures.

At CEI they’re rigorously testing the BRUVS, to see if they’re a suitable alternative to long-lining. We’ll be documenting the research, and some of the other interesting work that goes on at CEI.