Wild Shark Social Networks

Movement, Migration and Social Networks in Wild Port Jackson Sharks

Understanding the functions of grouping behaviour in sharks is essential for assessing their vulnerability to human threats such as overfishing and habitat destruction. This project examines the social structure of a Port Jackson Shark breeding group in the Jervis Bay Marine Park using novel acoustic monitoring and genetic techniques to collect behavioural and movement data from these highly cryptic marine animals. Field work for this project was undertaken between July and September 2012 in Jervis Bay. So far, 221 Port Jackson Sharks were captured by scuba divers, processed (sexed, measured and weighed) and tagged. Preliminary analysis found that in Jervis Bay sharks are highly social and tend to associate with specific individuals. This work will continue in Spring of 2013 to further explore the diversity of social behaviour of individual sharks. The techniques developed in this project could be extrapolated to protect and learn about the social structure of other shark species.

Project partners:

Taronga: Dr Jo Wiszniewski
Macquarie University: Associate Professor Culum Brown, PhD candidate Nathan Bass
NSW Fisheries: Dr Nathan Knott 
Bimini Biological Field Station: Tristan Guttridge

For more information contact:

Taronga Conservation Science Initiative

Contact: 
Rebecca Spindler, Manager, Research and Conservation
Phone: 
+61 2 9978 4608

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