Oceans Research

Mossel Bay, South Africa

Oceans Research

Mossel Bay, South Africa

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Jewell O.J.D.,University of Pretoria | Wcisel M.A.,Dyer Island Conservation Trust | Wcisel M.A.,University of Cape Town | Gennari E.,Oceans Research | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

We present 15 individual cases of sub-adult white sharks that were SPOT tagged in South Africa from 2003-2004 and have been re-sighted as recently as 2011. Our observations suggest SPOT tags can cause permanent cosmetic and structural damage to white shark dorsal fins depending on the duration of tag attachment. SPOT tags that detached within 12-24 months did not cause long term damage to the dorsal fin other than pigmentation scarring. Within 12 months of deployment, tag fouling can occur. After 24 months of deployment permanent damage to the dorsal fin occurred. A shark survived this prolonged attachment and there seems little compromise on the animal's long term survival and resultant body growth. This is the first investigation detailing the long term effects of SPOT deployment on the dorsal fin of white sharks. © 2011 Jewell et al.


Vignon M.,CNRS Host-Pathogen-Environment Interactions Laboratory | Vignon M.,CNRS Insular Research Center and Environment Observatory | Sasal P.,CNRS Host-Pathogen-Environment Interactions Laboratory | Sasal P.,CNRS Insular Research Center and Environment Observatory | And 4 more authors.
Marine and Freshwater Research | Year: 2010

Shark feeding is widespread throughout tropical, subtropical and temperate marine ecosystems and gives rise to controversy because there is little consensus regarding its management. There are few comprehensive reports that consider how shark feeding with bait might impact local fishes, despite the development of this practice during the last few decades. Although shark feeding might theoretically have parasitological effects on local non-target fish species in the vicinity of feeding areas, this aspect has never been investigated. During an extensive parasitological survey conducted between 2005 and 2007, a total of 1117 fish belonging to six common grouper and snapper species were sampled throughout the entire north coast of Moorea Island (French Polynesia), encompassing three localities where feeding has occurred frequently since the 1990s. Parasites exhibited no spatial patterns except for the infections on the blacktip grouper (Epinephelus fasciatus). On this species, the prevalence of larval cestodes that parasitise sharks as adults and the intensity of their infestation were significantly higher around shark-feeding localities compared with non-shark-feeding localities. Our results suggest for the first time that although long-term shark feeding has parasitological implications, the impacts appear limited, only involve cestode larvae from one host species and do not seem to affect the health of the fish we studied. © 2010 CSIRO.


Ryklief R.,Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University | Ryklief R.,Oceans Research | Pistorius P.A.,Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University | Johnson R.,Oceans Research
African Journal of Marine Science | Year: 2014

White sharks Carcharodon carcharias aggregate at specific times of the year at localities along the South African coast. At Mossel Bay, on the southern Cape coast, four sites were sampled (Seal Island, Hartenbos, Kleinbrak and Grootbrak) to investigate spatial and seasonal patterns in relative abundance and life-history composition. These are known aggregation sites within the bay, each having particular physical and/or biological characteristics. Sightings-per-unit-effort data were collected from February to December 2008–2010. Sighting rates demonstrated significant seasonal and interannual variation at the four sites. The highest mean sighting rate was recorded at Seal Island and the lowest at Hartenbos, which might be a consequence of differences in prey availability. The greatest interannual variability was recorded at Kleinbrak, followed by Seal Island, with little variability at Grootbrak and Hartenbos. White sharks appeared to concentrate at Grootbrak and Kleinbrak in summer and autumn, at Seal Island in winter, and at Hartenbos and Seal Island in spring. All life-history stages were present year-round but their occurrence was influenced significantly by season (p < 0.05), although not site. Few adults (325–424 cm total length) were seen, with the highest frequency being in spring, whereas that of young-of-the-year (≤174 cm) was in autumn. Juveniles (175–324 cm) constituted 78% of the animals sighted, indicating that Mossel Bay is an important aggregation site for this life-history stage. © 2014, Copyright © NISC (Pty) Ltd.


Mertz E.M.,University of Pretoria | Mertz E.M.,Oceans Research | Bester M.N.,University of Pretoria
South African Journal of Wildlife Research | Year: 2011

An opportunistic observational study on human disturbance of a vagrant southern elephant seal that was hauled out on a tourist beach in Mossel Bay, South Africa, is presented. Incidences of pedestrians ignoring signage and the demarcation barrier around the seal raise questions about the management of such haulout events, pubic safety and the effects of disturbance.


James B.S.,University of Pretoria | James B.S.,Oceans Research | Bester M.N.,University of Pretoria | Penry G.S.,University of Pretoria | And 3 more authors.
African Journal of Marine Science | Year: 2015

Indian Ocean humpback dolphins Sousa plumbea inhabit nearshore waters from South Africa to eastern India. Humpback dolphins are vulnerable to conservation threats due to their naturally small population sizes and use of nearshore habitats, where human activities are highest. We investigated the abundance and residency of this species inhabiting Mossel Bay, South Africa, using photographic mark-recapture. Data were collected during 81 surveys in Mossel Bay between 2011 and 2013. Open population modelling using the POPAN parameterisation produced a ‘super-population’ estimate of 125 individuals (95% CI: 61–260) and within-year estimates of between 33 and 86 individuals (2011: 71 [95% CI: 30–168]; 2012: 33 [15–73], 32 [15–70]; 2013: 46 [20–108]). Although less appropriate, closed capture models were also run for comparison with previous studies in the region and generated similar, but slightly smaller, population estimates within each year. We compared our catalogue with opportunistic data collected from East London, Plettenberg Bay, De Hoop and Gansbaai. The only catalogue matches attained were between Plettenberg Bay (n = 44 identified) and Mossel Bay (n = 67 identified), separated by 140 km. Population exchange was moderate, with nine individuals resighted in multiple years between these two areas. This study supports previous findings of long-range movements for this species and provides a baseline from which to assess future impacts on the population. © 2015 NISC (Pty) Ltd.


Delaney D.G.,Oceans Research | Delaney D.G.,University of Pretoria | Johnson R.,Oceans Research | Johnson R.,University of Pretoria | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Determining the residency of an aquatic species is important but challenging and it remains unclear what is the best sampling methodology. Photo-identification has been used extensively to estimate patterns of animals' residency and is arguably the most common approach, but it may not be the most effective approach in marine environments. To examine this, in 2005, we deployed acoustic transmitters on 22 white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) in Mossel Bay, South Africa to quantify the probability of detecting these tagged sharks by photo-identification and different deployment strategies of acoustic telemetry equipment. Using the data collected by the different sampling approaches (detections from an acoustic listening station deployed under a chumming vessel versus those from visual sightings and photo-identification), we quantified the methodologies' probability of detection and determined if the sampling approaches, also including an acoustic telemetry array, produce comparable results for patterns of residency. Photo-identification had the lowest probability of detection and underestimated residency. The underestimation is driven by various factors primarily that acoustic telemetry monitors a large area and this reduces the occurrence of false negatives. Therefore, we propose that researchers need to use acoustic telemetry and also continue to develop new sampling approaches as photo-identification techniques are inadequate to determine residency. Using the methods presented in this paper will allow researchers to further refine sampling approaches that enable them to collect more accurate data that will result in better research and more informed management efforts and policy decisions. © 2012 Delaney et al.


Jewell O.J.D.,Oceans Research | Jewell O.J.D.,University of Pretoria | Johnson R.L.,Oceans Research | Johnson R.L.,University of Pretoria | And 3 more authors.
Environmental Biology of Fishes | Year: 2013

Previous work on white sharks indicate the species show seasonally limited movement patters, at certain aggregation sites small areas may play vital roles in the life history of a large amount of the population. Acoustic telemetry was used to estimate habitat use of white sharks, Carcharodon carcharias, while aggregating at Mossel Bay, South Africa. Total range of all shark tracks combined accumulated 782 h and covered an area of 93.5 km2 however, within this range, sharks were found to highly utilise a core habitat (50 % Kernel, K50) of just 1.05 km2 over a reef system adjacent to a river mouth. Individual tracks revealed additional core habitats, some of which were previously undocumented and one adjacent to a commercial harbor. Much was found to be dependent on the size of the shark, with larger sharks (>400 cm) occupying smaller activity areas than subadult (300-399 cm) and juvenile (<300 cm) conspecifics, while Index of Reuse (IOR) and Index of Shared Space (IOSS) were both found to increase with shark size. Such results provide evidence that larger white sharks are more selective in habitat use, which indicates they have greater experience within aggregation sites. Furthermore, the focused nature of foraging means spatially restricted management strategies would offer a powerful tool to aid enforcement of current protective legislation for the white shark in similar environments of limited resources and capacity. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


Delaney D.G.,Citizen Science Institute | Delaney D.G.,Oceans Research | Edwards P.K.,McGill University | Leung B.,McGill University
Marine Biology | Year: 2012

Predicting spread is a central goal of invasion ecology. Within marine systems, researchers have increasingly made use of oceanographic circulation models to estimate currents and track species dispersal. However, the accuracy of these models for predicting biological patterns, particularly for non-native species, has generally not been validated. Particularly, we wished to examine the ability of models to predict physical and biological processes, which jointly determine the spread of marine larval organisms. We conducted two empirical studies-a recruitment study and a drift card study-along the coast of New England, USA, focusing on two invaders of concern-the European green crab (Carcinus maenas) and the Asian shore crab (Hemigrapsus sanguineus), to explicitly evaluate the ability of oceanographic models to predict patterns of spread. We used data from the large-scale drift card study to validate our ability to capture dispersal patterns driven purely by physical processes. Next, we conducted a recruitment study to evaluate our ability to reproduce patterns of biological dispersal. We were generally capable of reproducing drift cards patterns-suggesting that the physical mechanics in the model were predictive. However, predicted biological patterns were inconsistent-we were able to predict dispersal patterns for H. sanguineus but not for C. maenas. Our results highlight the importance of validating models and suggest that more work is necessary before we can reliably use oceanographic models to predict biological spread of intertidal organisms. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.


Findlay R.,Dalhousie University | Gennari E.,Oceans Research | Gennari E.,South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity | Cantor M.,Dalhousie University | And 2 more authors.
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology | Year: 2016

Abstract: White sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) are circumglobally distributed large apex predators. While ecologically important, there is very limited study of their social behaviour. Although evident in other large, apex marine predators (e.g. toothed whales) and smaller elasmobranchs (e.g. blacktip reef sharks), the ability of any large pelagic elasmobranch to demonstrate social preferences, tolerance or grouping behaviour is largely unknown. Here, we test whether white sharks in a near-coastal environment form non-random associations with other conspecifics or simply share the same space at the same time. We photo-identified 323 individuals—74 % juvenile females (175–300 cm)—during chumming events at six different sites in Mossel Bay, South Africa, over a 6-year period (2008–2013), and tested for grouping behaviour. We found evidence for random associations among individuals, though spatio-temporal co-occurrence of white sharks in close proximity was weakly structured according to sex and, potentially, body size. Such biological traits may play a minor part in structuring co-occurrence of individuals at fine spatio-temporal scales, which could reflect ontogenetic preferences in diet and site fidelity, or differing tolerance levels for conspecifics of different sexes and sizes. Our study strengthens the evidence that large pelagic shark species are generally solitary and display limited social behaviour. Significance statement: Large pelagic shark species are important top predators, but we know little about their social behaviour. We tested the ability of white sharks (C. carcharias) to form groups and display social preferences for other individuals when they congregate at scavenging events in a coastal environment, where social interactions may be more likely. We found that white sharks co-occur at random, displaying no preferred or avoided associations for other individuals. Nevertheless, there was a minor influence of biological traits, with individuals aggregating according to gender and, possibly, body size. While we hypothesise these effects could represent preferences in diet and site fidelity, or more tolerance for similar-sized individuals of the same sex, our study strengthens the evidence that white sharks are mostly solitary foragers. © 2016 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg


PubMed | Oceans Research
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2012

Determining the residency of an aquatic species is important but challenging and it remains unclear what is the best sampling methodology. Photo-identification has been used extensively to estimate patterns of animals residency and is arguably the most common approach, but it may not be the most effective approach in marine environments. To examine this, in 2005, we deployed acoustic transmitters on 22 white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) in Mossel Bay, South Africa to quantify the probability of detecting these tagged sharks by photo-identification and different deployment strategies of acoustic telemetry equipment. Using the data collected by the different sampling approaches (detections from an acoustic listening station deployed under a chumming vessel versus those from visual sightings and photo-identification), we quantified the methodologies probability of detection and determined if the sampling approaches, also including an acoustic telemetry array, produce comparable results for patterns of residency. Photo-identification had the lowest probability of detection and underestimated residency. The underestimation is driven by various factors primarily that acoustic telemetry monitors a large area and this reduces the occurrence of false negatives. Therefore, we propose that researchers need to use acoustic telemetry and also continue to develop new sampling approaches as photo-identification techniques are inadequate to determine residency. Using the methods presented in this paper will allow researchers to further refine sampling approaches that enable them to collect more accurate data that will result in better research and more informed management efforts and policy decisions.

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