A great white shark tagging operation off the coast of Australia hit pay dirt after the ocean’s most intimidating predators were drawn like a magnet to Dillon Bay.
Floating just off the beach on Western Australia’s south coast, the decaying corpse of a humpback whale proved to be an irresistible enticement for the great whites, providing the state’s top shark experts with a unique opportunity. Beginning on August 9, fisheries officers captured and were able to tag six great white sharks in the bay and its surrounding area, according to The West Australian. Until that point, officials had never been able to tag more than four great whites in such a short period of time.
— Ann’s Cottage (@annscottagesurf) September 19, 2014
During the expedition, scientists were able to implant the tags in the sharks surgically, rather than attaching them externally. According to the fisheries’ principal research scientist Rory McAuley, the life of a tag is dramatically increased when it is attached to a shark in that manner. Over the course of the next ten years, the tags are expected to transmit valuable data about the great whites, although now it is simply a matter of waiting until WA’s network of monitoring buoys detect the sharks.
“It was the best catch of white sharks we have had in that sort of time frame in such a small area,” Dr. McAuley asserted. “But the gold is going to come from the data these sharks will provide us.”
The tagging operation is part of a research project funded between WA, Commonwealth and South Australian authorities. As The Huffington Post notes, Western Australia has been the site of a highly controversial shark cull, which began in January 2014, utilizing baited drumlines to catch and kill white sharks. Following a three month trial period, the EPA of Western Australia recommended that the shark cull not be continued for a further three years, citing an uncertain environmental impact, as The Inquisitr previously noted.
— VICE News (@vicenews) September 13, 2014
Dr. McAuley also revealed that another great white had been internally tagged on Thursday, off Garden Island. Calling it pure luck, McAuley said that the fisheries team deployed their shark catching gear strictly on a hunch. The project has now tagged 188 great white sharks in total.
[Image via The West Australian]