Thursday 19 December 2019 3:24pm
Rob Lewis prepares to deploy a camera into Otago Harbour to gather data on sharks.
The old catchphrase “the only good shark, is a dead shark” is something that Rob Lewis and the University’s NZ Marine Studies Centre (NZMSC) are aiming to squash this summer.
Otago is a hot spot for a diversity of shark species and Mr Lewis needs help from the wider community to find out more about these local icons.
“Some of the most important information that we’re lacking is the simple stuff,” he says. “At least 10 different species of sharks are found in Otago coastal waters, but we know very little about population sizes, where they hang out, feed, mate or have their young.”
He says better understanding the diversity, abundances, and structure of local shark populations will be key in understanding the ongoing health of Otago’s local coastal ecosystems in a changing ocean.
“That’s where you come in,” he says. “If you are planning to spend part of your summer holidays on or near the water, let me know if you spy any sharks”
Holidaymakers are urged to send sightings information in, ideally including a photo, time and location.
“If you are more of a land lubber, don’t worry, you can help too. This summer we’ll be out and about on local beaches searching for any shark egg cases that may have washed up. Egg cases are unique to different species, and so they’re a fantastic way to gather information on when those species are breeding and laying eggs.”
The shark spotting is a continuation of the NZMSC’s Shark Spy Citizen science platform, which has seen schools work alongside Mr Lewis to using baited underwater video traps to collect data throughout the year.
Spot a shark, get in touch:
There are three ways to send information to the project:
1. Go to www.inaturalist.org, search for Shark Spy. Then simply upload your encounter to our database
2. Upload your encounter to our Facebook page, simply search for Shark Spy Otago
3. Email your encounter to: email@example.com