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Population structure, movement and foraging of coastal and oceanic pelagic sharks in the Southern Ocean

Abstract

Global declines in the abundance of oceanic and coastal pelagic sharks, has led to several species being listed as ‘Threatened’ and ‘Near-Threatened’. Despite this, there is limited information with which to assess the status or ecological importance of these shark populations and therefore, there is no reliable baseline information with which to compare and assess future trends. Climatic and oceanic variability is also likely to impact these broad ranging migratory species, yet without addressing critical information gaps now, this cannot be monitored. These issues represent major weaknesses in current assessment procedures for these ecologically important taxa and formed the impetus for this study, which ultimately aims to provide practical scientific outcomes to advise future conservation and management processes.

Objectives:

  1. Investigate the movement dynamics of Shortfin Mako, and Blue Sharks in the Southern and Indian Oceans: identification of critical habitats and migration paths;
  2. Assess satellite tagged Shortfin Makos as ‘observers’ of thermal variability in the Southern and Indian Oceans;
  3. Investigate the movement dynamics of Bronze Whalers: relationships with oceanographic features and prey hotspots;
  4. Quantify the dietary differences between coastal and oceanic pelagic sharks in the Southern Ocean and resolve critical gaps in trophodynamic models used in ecosystem-based management of fisheries;
  5. Assess the reproductive status of coastal and oceanic pelagic sharks using rapid assessment and non-fatal techniques; 
  6. Investigate the genetic population structure of Shortfin Makos in the southern hemisphere;
  7. Use information on the movement dynamics and genetic structure of Shortfin Mako populations to identify appropriate spatial scales for future management and conservation measures.