The Fox Shark Research Foundation released a video (see below) highlighting the successful deployment of acoustic listening stations in South Australian waters, part of a joint research project with Save Our Seas Foundation to study white shark site fidelity. Known for adventure, research, and education, Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions is the pioneering and premiere dive operation in South Australia. Their experience diving with great white sharks for over 40 years lends great capital to a research effort such as this and represents their continuous commitment to understand and preserve these amazing predators. The following information comes from the SOSF White Shark Site Fidelity project page:
This project aims to identify key habitats for white sharks in South Australian waters.
Why this is important:
Research on the movement patterns of white sharks have shown that while they travel extensively across their range in Australian waters, they have preferred habitat sites that they may temporarily reside in and regularly re-visit. In South Australia, one such site is the Neptune Islands and unsurprisingly much of our knowledge of white sharks in South Australian waters comes from research based at this site. Defining the locations of other areas of important habitat and the connectivity between them is important for understanding how to effectively protect and recover white shark populations.
Much research has been conducted on white sharks at the Neptune Islands over the last 10 years, incorporating operators log book data, photographic identification, genetic sampling, fine scale movement studies and acoustic and satellite tagging. However, since this data collection has been limited to the Neptune Islands, there is limited understanding as to how such data relates to the behaviour and habitat use of the overall population. This has ramifications for using sites such as the Neptunes for monitoring trends in population size and status. The North Neptune Island group is one of several significant seal colonies in South Australian waters, and is clearly an important habitat to which some white sharks show high degree of site fidelity. But it is not known if these sharks spend periods of residency at other islands, nor how important other seal colonies are sharks that may not visit the Neptune Islands group.
Aims and Objectives
The overall aim of the project is to define other important habitat areas for white sharks and the pathways between them. Specific objectives are to:
- Establish the frequency and duration of visitation of sharks tagged at North Neptune Island to other seal colonies.
- Determine residence times and site fidelity to these specified sites
- Examine the fidelity of sharks tagged at alternative sites to the Neptune Islands
- Determine the timing and rates of movement of white sharks between these areas
- Test the corridor theory by placing stations at island groups within this corridor
- Build on existing knowledge on site fidelity and population dynamics by integrating with the current Australia-wide CSIRO program on white sharks
- Provide data to management agencies to enhance protection for the species from commercial fisheries in key habitat areas.