Sunday 16 June 2019

New Irish research reveals the secret lives of tiger sharks

JUNE 7, 2019
by Thomas Deane, Trinity College Dublin
A team of scientists led by experts from Trinity and a US-based NGO have just returned from the Bahamas where they learned all about the secret lives of the region's tiger sharks.
Cutting-edge bio-logging devices fixed to the sharks are providing a suite of biological information that has never been collected before, which will help the team assess how the global climate crisis may impact these apex predators.
Tiger sharks are classified as 'near threatened' by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, with commercial and artisanal fishing pressure and infrequent (once every three years) reproduction contributing to this status. Several countries continue to cull populations of tiger sharks given perceived risks to human swimmers, despite some regions having seen declines in shark abundance of ~ 75% in recent decades.
These huge (up to 5m in length) animals are found in tropical and sub-tropical oceans worldwide but have always been difficult to study given their aquatic lifestyle. The scientists involved in the current study got around this issue by using their biologging devices on the sharks—with sensors recording video, body temperature, swimming activity and orientation as the animals went about their normal routine.
By measuring how temperature influences the sharks' behaviour and swimming performance, the team will be better placed to predict how these animals will respond to future climate change.

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