Monthly Archives: March 2012

Mar 19 2012

“Give Sharks A Chance”, support this unique research project!!

by Allen Walker in blog

“Give Sharks A Chance”, support this unique research project!!

  The unique international collaboration between UKZN doctoral candidate Jessica Escobar-Porras, Blue Wilderness and international organisation Ocean Encounters, has seen the completion of the first phase of a very exciting Blacktip Shark Project at Shark Park. The project is looking at the genetic relationship among the Blacktip sharks at Shark Park and also the genetic relationship between these Blacktip sharks and those from the rest of the Western Indian Ocean. The outcomes of this project will provide for a better informed shark viewing experience for tourists, definitive management outcomes for fisheries managers and a greater scientific understanding of the social structures of Blacktip shark populations. In a silent realm where all but the most basic scientific endeavour is beyond reach this ground breaking project will deliver a massive breakthrough for science and tourism in KZN. Forty genetic samples were taken on a field trip from 20th – 28th February 2012 by Ocean Encounters founders and freedive legends William Winram and Fred Buyle with Jessica in attendance to annotate and preserve the samples for further genetics tests back at the laboratory under the watchful eye of her supervisor from the School of Life Sciences at the University of KwaZulu/Natal Dr Angus MacDonald. The team entered into a further two weeks of field work to do a basic population census of the Blacktip shark numbers at Shark Park from the 1st – 14th March 2012. Observations were made by visiting Australian shark scientist Sam Moyle on daily trips to sea over this period. Backing up visual observational techniques with photographic images to identify and count the sharks a total of 83 Blacktip sharks were recorded of which 27 were part of the initial genetics study. The sampled animals formed approximately a third of all Blacktip sharks sighted and from this the team will be able to determine a population size for the Blacktips at Shark Park. Initial estimates were around 60 individuals but thanks to this study the population would appear to be muchlarger than initially expected. The team have received a huge boost in support from East Coast Radio DJ Darren Maule who is participating in the “Operation Man Cave” Competition at Decorex Durban from the 21st -25th March 2012. Darren has nominated Jessica’s work as his charity for any funds he raises at Decorex. Get down to Decorex Durban 2012 and make a difference to any of the worthwhile charities that will benefit from “Operation Man Cave” but to “Give Sharks A Chance” make your donation to Darren. He has given sharks the chance that they desperately need, now, by supporting him so can you!

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