Monday, October 26, 2015

Research insights on recent shark attacks around Oahu

The Holland Lab at HIMB has observed the behavior of sharks frequenting Hawaii for many years.  Numerous tagging projects in Kane'ohe Bay have unveiled patterns in the migration of tiger sharks year to year.  Even though tiger sharks have been tracked traveling extensive distances in a short period of time, there are certain places they will repeatedly frequent during specific life stages.   In light of the recent increase in shark attacks around Oahu, this research lends a new perspective as to why these sharks have decided to make their presence known.

Dr. Carl Meyer, a researcher with the Holland Lab, addresses the current issue by associating recent attacks to tiger shark pupping season in October/November.  Tagging projects have demonstrated that female tiger sharks tend to migrate to the main Hawaiian Islands in the fall to give birth to their pups.  During this time, the female sharks ultimately starve because the energy expended nourishing their pups outweighs the energy they gain from feeding.  Dr. Meyer suggests recent attacks may have been the result of additional feedings by pregnant female tiger sharks desperate for sustenance and major increases in the amount of people using the ocean for recreational purposes.

Dr. Carl Meyer and fellow researchers tagging a tiger shark off the coast of Maui in October, 2013.

However, Dr. Meyer emphasizes that a higher risk of shark bites in the fall season was well known throughout traditional Hawaiian knowledge.  Shark attacks at this time of year are not an abnormal phenomenon.  Through oral tradition, the Hawaiians were aware of the fall pupping season and took added measures to stay safe when going into the water.  Ocean safety professionals now recommend that to reduce the risk, always swim or surf with another person and to avoid murky water. 

 You may read the full article here: 
Marine biologist Carl Meyer shares insights on recent tiger shark bites

If you would like a closer look at the tagging projects, the PacIOOS link below is an active tracking website detecting sharks currently being monitored: PacIOOS   


No comments:

Post a Comment