The first stage of the shark research catch and release tagging program ended last week.
The team comprising experts from the University of Hawaii, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Oceans 5 and National GEographic – Alan Friedlander, Jess Cramp and Dr Michelle Heutel were worried at first noting the few numbers of fish and sharks but they managed to tag in total 15 tunas and 8 sharks.
The second week proved more fruitful with 5 tags deployed in one day. The team also encountered and tagged 2 additional shark species in the second week ,total species now 4 which are the silvertip, grey reef shark, silky and the oceanic white tip.
Jess Cramp from Oceans 5 and Nat Geo revealed she was ecstatic noting some of the tagged shark species are travellers and being migratory she looked forward to gauging their travel patterns and use of ocean space especially here in Niue waters.
The team confirm they are returning to continue shark research with NOW and the Ministry of Natural Resources in coming months and in particular towards the end of year noting the low numbers of both fish and sharks during this first research period. The team also attached recording devices to FADs to determine the numbers and presence of sharks in those areas.
They also plan to host another public forum with local fishermen to reveal results in response to the concerns raised at a similar public forum held last year where fishermen raised concerns about sharks taking their catch and damaging their fishing gear in the process.