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Research & Initiatives

The State Government is supporting a variety of research projects and initiatives to gain a better understanding of shark biology and ecology by implementing (and investigating) various public safety initiatives and making changes to government policy. The aim is to provide everyone with useful information to make informed decisions about their water use.

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Tagged Shark Movements

Tagged Shark Movements

15 April 2014

View videos showing tagged shark movements around the Western Australian coast, which have been developed from tag detection data collected by acoustic receivers deployed through the Shark Monitoring Network, the Ocean Tracking Network and the Department of Fisheries’ Cockburn Sound Array.

Metropolitan receivers were installed in 2009, and around the south-west from March-April 2012. Therefore tag detections prior to 2012 are limited to the metropolitan region only. Where given, arrows indicate the direction between previous and next detection locations, which may not accurately represent the directions of sharks’ movement at the specific time of detection.

Please note the information contained within these videos was last updated in November 2013.

All 23 videos can be viewed on our YouTube channel

WA003

ID WA003
Species White shark
Sex Male
Length 3.5m (Estimated total length)
Tag Type(s) External acoustic transmitter
Tag Date & Location 24 May 2009, Scarborough
Tagger(s) WA Department of Fisheries

WA003 was one of two sharks found scavenging on a sperm whale carcass off the Perth coast (also see WA004). Despite being tagged adjacent to the metropolitan Shark Monitoring Network (SMN) receiver array, WA003 was not detected for nearly two weeks after tagging, before being intermittently detected in the northern and inshore sections of the SMN and Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) receiver arrays until August 10, 2009. He was not heard from again until October 6, 2011, when he was briefly re-detected by the SMN satellite-linked (VR4G) receiver stationed on the eastern end of Rottnest Island. He was not detected by either the CSIRO Neptune Islands’ VR4G receiver in South Australia or by the SMN data-recording (VR2W) receivers that were temporarily deployed in Two Peoples Bay in 2010 and has not been heard from since 2011.

Watch Video WA003

WA017

ID WA017
Species White shark
Sex Female
Length 2.7m (Fork length)
Tag Type(s) External and internal transmitter
Tag Date & Location 5 October 2012, Perth
Tagger(s) WA Department of Fisheries

WA017 was the first of four white sharks that were caught and tagged off the Perth coast over four consecutive days in October 2012. This shark remained close to where she was tagged for the next two days and according to data later collected from Shark Monitoring Network (SMN), Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) and Department of Fisheries’ Cockburn Sound receivers, she apparently remained within 13km of the Perth Metropolitan coast until about 5pm on October 13. She was then briefly re-detected by a SMN satellite-linked (VR4G) receiver 3.5km off Trigg on October 30 and by OTN and Cockburn Sound data-recording (VR2W) receivers over the next several hours before leaving the Perth coast. The next detections of this shark were by a SMN VR2W receiver 11km south of Bald Island ten days later, on November 10. She has not been heard from since. Assuming that WA017 travelled in straight lines from the Perth to Cape Leeuwin and from Cape Leeuwin to Bald Island (which is unlikely), she must have maintained a minimum average speed of 2.7kph over a minimum distance of 650km.

Watch Video WA017

WA018

ID WA018
Species White shark
Sex Female
Length 3.0m (Fork length)
Tag Type(s) Internal and external acoustic transmitter
Tag Date & Location 6 October 2012, Perth
Tagger(s) WA Department of Fisheries

WA018 was the second of four white sharks that were caught and tagged off the Perth coast on consecutive days in October 2012. Apart from an eight day absence between October 13 – 21, when she departed and returned via the northernmost Shark Monitoring Network (SMN) receiver at Ocean Reef, WA018 was subsequently detected by SMN, Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) and Department of Fisheries’ Cockburn Sound receivers almost every day until December 7. During that time, she generated 185 detection alerts from SMN satellite-linked (VR4G) receivers between Floreat and Ocean Reef and at Garden Island, including over a five-day spell off Ocean Reef in late October. Many of these VR4G detections occurred at the same receivers and at roughly the same times as detections of WA020. After leaving the Perth Metropolitan region, she was briefly detected 15km off Hamelin Bay and just South of Chatham Island on February 4 and 6, 2013. WA018 was then redetected by several SMN VR4G receivers between Leighton and Scarborough and at Garden Island in June, July and August 2013, resulting in a further 54 detection alerts. Until SMN and OTN receivers are retrieved in early 2014, it is unclear how long WA018 spent off the metropolitan coast over that period.

Watch Video WA018

WA020

ID WA020
Species White shark
Sex Female
Length 2.6m (Fork length)
Tag Type(s) Internal and external acoustic transmitters
Tag Date & Location 8 October 2012, Perth
Tagger(s) WA Department of Fisheries

WA020 was the last of the four white sharks that were caught and tagged off the Perth coast in 2012.This shark was detected by various Shark Monitoring Network (SMN), Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) and Department of Fisheries’ Cockburn Sound acoustic receivers on nine days in October 2012 and again in Cockburn Sound between December 30 and January 2, 2013. Interestingly this shark was detected almost simultaneously with WA018 at Floreat and Scarborough on October 14, and more significantly at Ocean Reef between October 24 – 30. The frequency and duration of real-time detections of WA018 and WA020 allowed Department of Fisheries’ staff to investigate the ecological conditions that could have contributed to these sharks’ presence in the area. Upon investigation, researchers identified an unusual density of baitfish, larger predatory tuna(s), sea lions and seabirds that were likely to have attracted these sharks (and possibly other untagged sharks) to Ocean Reef to the area between Mullaloo and Mindarie. After leaving the Metropolitan coast on January 2, 2013, WA020 was detected crossing the SMN Bald Island receiver line on January 12. She was subsequently recaptured off the Perth coast on October 15, 2013 and was redetected by satellite-linked (VR4G) receivers off Scarborough, Floreat, Swanborne and Garden Island on October 26 and November 15. The most recent detection of WA020 was at the newly-installed VR4G receiver off Meelup beach, near Cape Naturaliste.

Watch Video WA020

WA029

ID WA029
Species White shark
Sex Female
Length 3.86m (Fork length)
Tag Type(s) Internal and external acoustic transmitter
Tag Date & Location 24 October 2013, Perth
Tagger(s) WA Department of Fisheries

As of November 2013, the largest white shark that the Department of Fisheries had tagged off Perth with both internal and external acoustic tags was a female shark known as WA029. So far she has been detected by Shark Monitoring Network satellite-linked (VR4G) receivers at Floreat, Scarborough and Ocean Reef. However, with an expected battery life of ten years, her internal tag is expected to provide a great deal more data in years to come. Since producing these videos, larger white sharks have been tagged by the Department including a 5.04m female in King George Sound (Albany) in 2014.

Watch Video WA029

SA093

ID SA093
Species White shark
Sex Male
Length 5.0m (Estimated total length)
Tag Type(s) External acoustic transmitter
Tag Date & Location 22 April 2012, Neptune Islands (South Australia)
Tagger(s) Andrew Fox, Fox Shark Research Foundation

Before SA093 was first detected by a Shark Monitoring Network (SMN) data-recording (VR2W) receiver 12km off Bald Island on the August 2, 2012, he had been detected by the CSIRO Neptune Islands’ satellite-linked (VR4G) receiver just over three weeks before. To cover the 1600km between the Neptune Islands and Bald Island, this shark must have maintained a minimum average speed of 2.8 kph on his journey. SA093 appears to have then spent most of the next four months off southern WA, travelling as far west as Hamelin Bay, where he was detected by SMN VR2W receivers approximately 10km offshore on August 26. Given detections off Chatham Island between August 7 and 23 and on September 20, it may be reasonable to assume that SA093 spent approximately seven to eight weeks around south-western WA. Before returning to the Neptune Islands on February 2, 2013, this shark was re-detected off Bald Island during late September, late December and through early-mid January 2013. During his 23 day return journey to the Neptune Islands, this shark must have maintained a minimum average speed of 2.9 kph, almost exactly the same speed as his westward journey.

Watch Video SA093

Two People's Bay

Four female white sharks were tagged with external acoustic transmitters by Department of Fisheries’ staff at Two People’s Bay, east of Albany, on July 21, 2010, following a humpback whale carcass washing ashore there on July 16. A temporary Shark Monitoring Network array of six data-recording (VR2W) receivers was deployed around the inshore margin of the bay on July 22 to monitor whether these sharks remained in the area. The data collected by these receivers provide the first evidence for how long beached whale carcasses might lead to an elevated shark hazard risk.

With an estimated total length of 4.2m, WA011 (yellow) was the biggest of the sharks tagged. She revisited the bay twice after receivers had been deployed. On the first occasion, she appears to have spent a full 24 hours within the bay on July 28 and 29, while on the second occasion she only stayed for six hours between 7pm on August 1 and 1am on August 2.

WA009 (green) had an estimated total length of 3.5m. She was not detected during the first week that receivers were deployed but was then detected almost continuously by the receivers on July 29 and 30, and over a 15 hour period on August 5.

WA010 (orange), which had an estimated total length of 4.0m was not detected until August 14 and then again on August 21, 23, 28 and 31. Most of these visits lasted only a few minutes, except on the August 14 and 23, when she spent between 7 and 8 hours inside the Bay. 

The first and only detection of SA007 (blue) was on August 14 by a receiver in Two Peoples Bay. This male white shark had an estimated total length of 1.8m when he was fitted with an external acoustic transmitter at the Neptune Islands (South Australia), by cage dive operator Andrew Wright (Calypso Star Charters) on April 18, 2008. SA007 was not detected by the CSIRO Neptune Islands satellite-linked (VR4G) receiver before he left South Australia and has not been heard from in either WA or SA since leaving Two Peoples Bay. 

A fifth white shark, WA012 (purple) was tagged and detected by receivers in Two People’s Bay on September 6 but was not heard from again during the following two weeks that receivers remained in Two People’s Bay and has not been heard from since.

Watch Video Two Peoples Bay

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