Masters of Conservation Science / Masters of Marine Science students

Image Credit: Andrew Taylor

Student name: Kevin Spiby

Supervisors: Dr Koebraa Peters and Dr Taryn Murray (SAIAB)

Title of research project: Movements of captive-released Ragged-tooth sharks (Carcharias taurus) along the South African coastline.

Project outline: The release of ragged-tooth sharks back into the wild has always been a bit of a contentious issue around whether the time spent in captivity could potentially alter their natural instincts and if they would survive in the wild. A previous study from South Africa showed that aquarium released sharks migrated and had similar movement patterns when compared to that of their wild conspecifics. Acoustic telemetry, as a method to track the movement of sharks, can provide insights into habitat use and behaviour, allowing the identification of critical habitats for protection, feeding, breeding, and nursery grounds. The movement data can also be used to determine if these sharks are spending any time inside the Marine Protected Areas within South Africa and the level of protection these areas offer to these Critically Endangered sharks. This project looks to analyse the acoustic tag data collected over the last 11 years from 36 ragged-tooth sharks, from both sexes and across various size classes that have released back into the wild after spending multiple years on display as ambassadors for their species at the Two Oceans Aquarium.