In South Africa, bull sharks are known as Zambezi sharks, and they have a superpower – their body chemistry can change to allow them to survive in fresh water. Meaghen is studying the Zambezi sharks of the Breede River.
This project will investigate the Zambezi (bull) shark’s use of a newly identified habitat in the Southern Cape region of South Africa.
As a species of global conservation concern, the Zambezi shark is in need of sound management and conservation measures. This study will provide information to support the development of such measures by investigating a recently discovered, novel habitat used by this species.
The recent discovery of Zambezi sharks in the warm-temperate Breede River estuary on the south-west coast of South Africa, 366 kilometres outside of its previously known range, has refuted current scientific thinking about this animal, which had been thought to occur only in tropical and subtropical waters.
To address these new gaps in scientific knowledge, this project aims to identify reasons for this shift in distribution using satellite and acoustic tagging techniques; determine how Zambezi sharks utilise this unique habitat; and identify the population structure of this species in the Breede River and South Africa. This data will be used to inform and develop a species-specific management strategy for Zambezi sharks in South Africa.
The aims and objectives of this project are to:
Every year thousands of blacktip sharks migrate along the coast of South Florida. Marianne will film the aggregation with drones and then use her knowledge of engineering and physics to understand how the animals move. This is the first time that shark-swimming kinematics will be studied in the wild!
Bimini in the Bahamas is home to large populations of sharks. Mariana will observe whether the presence of those sharks affects how turtles use their habitat and whether more turtles means more sharks. Bimini is undergoing intensive development for tourism, so understanding how animals use their space is critical for their conservation.