RESEARCHERS, including some from Coffs Harbour, are tagging and releasing bull sharks at the mouth of the Clarence River to see how far and wide they travel along the coast and upstream into waterways.
The study team is catching, tagging and releasing sharks caught near the river mouth at Yamba daily between 9pm and 4am.
The research is expected to have some bearing on the Coffs Coast, given the distance the sharks can travel at sea and in rivers and estuaries, surviving in brackish and fresh water.
Bull sharks are commonly found in warm, shallow waters and are among the three shark species most likely to attack humans, along with tigers and great whites.
“Industry and Investment NSW researchers will be tagging up to 30 bull sharks with internal tags which provide extremely valuable information including the temperature and depth of the shark during its movements,” NSW Primary Industries Minister Steve Whan said.
The study group is taking note of the growth stage, size at sexual maturity and dietary information of the sharks.
Fitted with electronic tags, the sharks’ movements will be tracked using a network of underwater acoustic listening stations.
“The stations have a detection range of approximately a 400-metre radius and have been placed to maximise the detection of the tagged sharks based on knowledge provided by local fishers,” Mr Whan said.
I&I NSW shark scientist Dr Amy Smoothey said the public should not be alarmed by the presence of bull sharks in our waterways.
“Contrary to popular belief, shark numbers are not on the rise in NSW, they continue to be commercially fished and as such numbers are actually on the decline,” she said.
“What this information does is assists us in increasing our understanding of these animals and contributes to the number of shark safety initiatives the NSW Government has in place.”
Anglers who catch tagged bull sharks are urged to return them to the water.