Charles Darwin University
I completed my Honours project at Charles Darwin University (CDU) in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) in 2006. My Honours project assessed spot-matching software for use in individual identification of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) at Ningaloo Reef, WA. I am now enrolled in the PhD program at CDU. My project, which is a collaboration between CDU and AIMS, examines the movement patterns and feeding ecology of reef sharks at Ningaloo Reef. I am primarily focussing on movement patterns of black tip (Carcharhinus melanopterus), white tip (Triaenodon obesus) and grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos), but am also monitoring juvenile lemon sharks (Negaprion acutidens) and nervous sharks (Carcharhinus cautus).
Movement patterns are monitored using acoustic tags that are implanted internally in sharks and transmit information to an array of acoustic receivers. The receivers have been deployed in a number of key locations at Ningaloo Reef to maximise coverage of the study site. I will also observe fine-scale shark movement by actively tracking a number of tagged black tip reef sharks. This part of my study will provide information to help answer why reef sharks aggregate in inshore areas and how these sharks move and use their habitat.
The next stage of my project will look at the feeding habits of reef sharks at Ningaloo Reef. I will use fatty acid profiles and stable isotope ratios to examine the diet of reef sharks to establish the trophic role of these sharks within the reef community.