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Shark Bite-Off Rates Revealed at Ningaloo Reef

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Researchers at The University of Western Australia have quantified the number of shark bite-offs of recreationally caught fish in the Ningaloo region.

Published in Marine Ecology Progress Series, in collaboration with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, and funded by the Gorgon Barrow Island Net Conservation Benefits Fund and the Jock Clough Marine Foundation, the study provides the first quantification of shark bite-offs in a recreational fishery.

There was variation in bite-off rates across the Ningaloo region, but on average close to 40 per cent of the 400+ fishers interviewed had experienced a shark bite-off on their most recent fishing trip, with approximately 12 per cent of hooked fish being taken by sharks.

Areas fished more frequently had higher shark bite-off rates, which was hypothesized to be due to a behavioural change where the sharks associate the presence of boats with the availability of hooked fish to feed on. Additionally, areas with high catches for recreational fishers may also be good feeding habitats for sharks so have higher concentrations of the predators which lead to higher numbers of interactions with hooked fish.

In addition, when a larger number of vessels fished in close proximity, the chances of shark bite-offs also increased.

Lead author and PhD student Jonathan Mitchell from UWA...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.