Sharks play an essential rol in the health of our oceans

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The epic 4000 km journey of a tiger shark – and why culling sharks is such a bad idea!

A tiger shark and diver / © Peter Verhoog, Dutch Shark Society

Tiger sharks, like many other sharks, migrate. Migration patterns has been tracked worldwide, for instance in the Coral Sea between New Caledonia and the Great Barrier Reef, and from Florida to the Bahamas. In Australia, a tiger lady has been tracked on an epic journey between Esperance and Indonesia, proving West Australians aren’t the only ones opting for a getaway to the idyllic holiday archipelago.

Researchers fitted the 2.2-metre female with a satellite tag in Ningaloo Marine Park off Exmouth but never expected it to go on one of the longest recorded journeys of a tagged tiger shark anywhere in the world. In total, the animal was tracked for 517 days covering a distance of more than 4000km.

The satellite tag was attached to the animal in August 2008 but the data has only now been analysed because of a big backlog of tagging data.

The project was a joint effort between the WA Fisheries Department, CSIRO and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, with the findings presented by University of WA PhD student Luciana Ferreira.

UWA Centre for Marine Futures director Professor Jessica Meeuwig said the animal’s mammoth journey suggested that using drum lines to catch and kill tiger sharks off Perth could have far-reaching effects on other parts of the tiger sharks’ range. In total, 172 sharks were caught in the trial period, of which 163 were tiger sharks and none were great whites, considered the most dangerous species. The WA government plans to reintroduce the program for a three-year period.  Experts say the lethal program is “not scientifically supported” and will damage the ecology of the ocean – and not only in Australia.

See how tiger sharks are being tagged:

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