OCEARCH Australian Expedition

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OCEACH Australia Exhibition 

 

OCEACH to Shine Spotlight on Australia's Tiger Sharks

Australian scientists will join globally recognised shark-tracking experts to monitor tiger sharks and gain a better understanding of when they visit our beaches.

The primary aim of studying the sharks’ migratory patterns is achieving safer beaches, while ensuring the sustainability of an often feared creature.

In a world first OCEARCH is bringing its unique research vessel MV OCEARCH (the only one of its kind) to Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia to study tiger sharks with some of Australia’s best shark scientists.

The knowledge boost on tiger shark movements will provide our scientists with the most accurate data (to-date), while Australians will be able to tap into near-real time, free satellite shark-tracking for themselves.

Its maiden Australian voyage is being launched in Brisbane on 30 January, with scientists from Tokyo, Argentina and the US joining researchers from the University of Queensland, James Cook University, the University of Western Australia and the University of Tasmania.

James Cook University’s Dr Adam Barnett described the OCEARCH expedition as a great opportunity to advance our research program.

"We have the chance to tag more tiger sharks with OCEARCH satellite technology over a period of a few weeks than our team has in the past 14 years in Queensland waters," Dr Barnett.

OCEARCH has collaborated with over 70 scientists and 40 international institutions since 2007, and made significant contributions to global shark research, with dozens of research papers in progress or published.

How does it work?

The team combines the skill of fishermen and knowledge of scientists to board large sharks onto an over-water platform for sampling and tagging. The satellite tags, properly known as SPOT (Smart Position and Temperature) tags, provide near-real time locations of sharks available for free online at www.ocearch.org or by using the Global Shark Tracker App available for Apple or Droid platforms.

Founding Chairman and Expedition Leader, Chris Fischer said OCEARCH data had influenced policy makers in a number of countries resulting in better outcomes for both shark and humans.

"It will be a privilege to serve the Australian people and your tiger shark research community. It's our goal to create the most inclusive, open sourced shark project with the Australian people in history."

Mr Fischer said sharing timely knowledge with the public was key to replacing fear with fascination.

University of Queensland shark scientist Bonnie Holmes will use the expedition to follow up on her recent tiger shark tagging work in South Eastern Australia.

"We are only beginning to understand how these sharks move between the warm temperate waters of New South Wales in the summer, to the sub-tropical and tropical waters of Queensland in winter," Ms Holmes said. "Some of our previously tracked tiger sharks also moved as far east as New Caledonia, so we know their home range is rather significant. With SPOT tags on these animals we will know where they move anywhere in the world, in near-real time, as they come up to fin."

Regular updates will be posted on the @Ocearch Twitter handle as well as the OCEARCH Facebook page.

The expedition is largely funded by Caterpillar Inc. as part of an on-going commitment to ocean sustainability and social innovation.

 

For further information contact:

Danielle Bull | WesTrac General Manager Marketing Communications

T: (02) 9840 4642| F: (02) 9840 4689 | M: 0477 334 887