Lots of things have happened in Fiji since my last blog entry in September last year and I apologise for not keeping you updated. I was busy finishing a manuscript reporting the results from interviewing the locals living along the rivers. In the meanwhile, the paper has been accepted for publication by Environmental Conservation and will soon be available. Needless to say that we were happy learning that locals see and sometimes catch sharks in all the major rivers in Fiji. On the other hand, we were a bit surprised that nobody could tell us what species of shark they catch further upriver in low salinity/fresh water (there were some reports of hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks and other species from the river mouths). The names they used to describe the sharks were "baby shark" or "small shark". So we set out to learn more about sharks in Fijian rivers and went fishing in the Navua River which is the one closest to the Shark Reef Marine Reserve. From acoustic monitoring we know that some of the large bull sharks we see (and tagged) at the Shark Reef Marine Reserve regularly show up at the mouth of the Navua River and we suppose that some of the large female bull sharks we see on Shark Reef give birth at the end of the year in this particular river. It would therefore be no surprise to find juvenile bull sharks in the Navua River.
The first few fishing attempts were not successful and all we caught was an eel. We asked the locals what would be the best time for fishing for sharks in the river (low tide, high tide, night, day etc.) and slowly improved our techniques. Switching from rod and reel to a small longline finally resulted in catching two bull sharks a few days ago. The site where we caught the two sharks is still relatively close to the mouth of the river. We were able to take tissue samples for Mahmood and release the sharks in good condition.
Thanks to Eroni and Victor! We will continue our fishing efforts in the coming weeks and work our way slowly upriver.