Nature Foundation restarts its Shark Telemetry Study

Nature Foundation Projects Officer Meijer zu Schlochtern installs an acoustic receiver on the dive site “Gregory.”

COLE BAY–Nature Foundation recently installed three new acoustic receivers to research the movement patterns of sharks in St. Maarten waters.

Seven receivers were lost in Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017, stagnating the Foundation’s research into shark abundance and movement patterns around the island, a project which started in October 2015.

The telemetry study is part of the “Save our Sharks” project and executed in collaboration with scientist Dr. Erwin Winter of Wageningen University’s Wageningen Marine Research. It is also part of a larger shark study around Saba, St. Eustatius and the Saba Bank and funded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery.

The three acoustic receivers on the dive sites the Bridge, the Gregory and Carib Cargo were replaced thanks to additional funding from the Wageningen Marine Research.

Four sharks in St. Maarten waters are tagged with small electronic acoustic transmitters that send out a unique signal continuously and when it is within 500 to 800 metres of a receiver, the shark is detected.

“This research will provide us essential information about movement patterns of sharks and the size of areas they use, which will help to better protect these significant species and understand their behaviour,” stated Nature Foundation Projects Officer Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.

The Foundation will seek additional funding to replace another four acoustic receivers to extend the study back to its original size. Previous results of the study already suggested very local movement patterns of Caribbean Reef sharks and nurse sharks, and movement patterns of tagged juvenile tiger sharks still need to be analysed.

The Foundation asks scuba divers to keep their distance from the installed receivers and their setup, to be able to collect data successfully.

Source: The Daily Herald