Project news

Kicking off the new field season on the Breede River

By Meaghen McCord, 11th July 2011

SASC is so thrilled, once again, to be working with the Save Our Seas Foundation for the second year in a row! A grant from the SOSF has made it possible for us to continue studying the world’s biggest bull sharks in one of the most unique habitats – the Breede River on the southwest coast of South Africa. This year SASC will begin examining how these sharks shape community structure in estuarine systems, with an overall aim to improving our understanding of the importance of sharks in marine and estuarine ecosystems.

This week marks our first return to the river since tagging Pumpkin with a pop-up archival tag (PAT tag) back in March 2011. For those of you who did not hear the news, Pumpkin made history in Africa when he travelled to Bazaruto, Mozambique after being fitted with the PAT tag. This represented a journey of over 2000km in 53 days… certainly unexpected results for SASCs scientific team. Hopefully we run in to Pumpkin again this year when we embark on our tagging and telemetry expeditions. This would definitely show a degree of residency for bull sharks in the Breede River – and the implications of this are certainly critical when developing conservation and management strategies for this species in southern Africa.

From July 13-15 SASC will be joined by a team of scientists from the Fisheries Branch: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries at the Breede River where we will be planning the project’s direction for the coming months and designing the experiments to maximize data gained through tagging. As well as a host of other activities, we will be doing range testing for the underwater acoustic array (to track fish and shark movements) and determining the optimal numbers of tags for deployment.

September will see the launch of the upcoming field season, and the SASC team will be spending a lot of time on the river where we will surgically implant acoustic tags into dusky kob, spotted grunter and, of course, the big bulls. We can’t wait to begin unravelling how bull sharks shape the world around them!

Stay tuned to this blog to keep up to date on the results as we find them! Also tune into SASCs Facebook page for more information and updates.

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