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:
Managing sawshark populations requires good information on where they move and what their relative abundance. Jane and Paddy are using a variety of methods to improve our understanding of the conservation status and management of sawsharks threatened by fishing in south-eastern Australia.