Small changes to marine parks could make a big difference
to mako sharks and many other ocean shark species, says UWA researcher
Charlotte Birkmanis, lead author of a paper published in Global Ecology and
Sharks are the peak predators across the world’s oceans.
They’re essential to the health of the oceans, and of the fisheries that
billions of people depend on.
Macquarie University’s Professor Rob Harcourt urges Oceania-wide action to safeguard several species.
Sharks in Australian waters are well protected but
are at risk as soon as they leave them, a new international study reveals.
The study compiled by 150 scientists around the
world – including 26 with ties to Australia – has found thateven in the most remote parts of the world’s oceans migratory
sharks are in severe danger from commercial fishing fleets, new research
In a paper published in the journal Nature,
more than 150 scientists, including Professor Rob Harcourt from the Department
of Biological Sciences at Australia’s Macquarie University, report that the
sharks – which include iconic species such as the shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) and the great white (Carcharodon
congregate in food-rich areas that are also prime hunting grounds for
commercial longline fishing fleets.
Macquarie University researchers discovered that most sharks are colour blind, and used that knowledge to create patented wetsuit camouflage designs that are now on the market. Now the team is looking at how sharks perceive surfboards.
Associate Professor Nathan Hart, his students and collaborators are taking a new look at the sensory world of sharks. Using a range of physiological, genetic and behavioural methods, they have obtained the clearest view yet of how sharks, including notorious predators such the great white shark, see the world around them.
Short periods of flapping wings alternating with long, gliding descent helps birds preserve energy in flight. Now researchers have discovered that sharks and seals can use the same technique to glide through the ocean.
Murdoch University’s Dr Adrian Gleiss led a team that attached accelerometers to whale sharks, white sharks, fur seals, and elephant seals.
They found that all four species performed the characteristic undulating flight of birds and bats, with periods of active, upwards propulsion alternating with slow, passive, gliding descents.
Small Australian sharks have been exposed as bigger homebodies than previously thought, in a study that took an existing chemical tracking technique and made it work for Great Barrier Reef sharks.
The study found that the travel history of the Australian sharpnose shark was written in their blood—with chemical ‘fin-prints’ showing they tended to stay within smaller areas than previously believed.
“Small-bodied sharks that are both predator and prey, such as the Australian sharpnose, may be particularly important links between food webs,” says lead researcher Dr Sam Munroe, who studied the sharks while at James Cook University in Townsville.
“Information on their movements can improve our understanding of how the ecosystems function, while also helping us predict species most at risk from the impacts of a changing environment.”
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