Reef fund

Big boost for Nin­ga­loo re­search

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Tom Zaun­mayr

A suc­cess­ful whale shark-tag­ging pro­gram off the Nin­ga­loo coast will re­ceive a $400,000 boost.

BHP Bil­li­ton last week an­nounced the ex­tra fund­ing, which will see the Nin­ga­loo Out­look re­search pro­gram, run in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the CSIRO, in­crease whale shark mon­i­tor­ing and re­search ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

The funds will en­able re­searchers to de­ploy five more satel­lite tags each year for four years to col­lect data on the whale sharks’ move­ments and ecol­ogy.

BHP Pe­tro­leum se­nior en­vi­ron­ment and reg­u­la­tory spe­cial­ist Tim Cooper said the ex­ten­sion of the pro­gram came on the back of en­cour­ag­ing re­sults from re­search last year.

“Those re­sults will go straight into un­der­stand­ing the move­ment and ecol­ogy pat­terns of these megafauna that roam the ocean and pro­vide in­for­ma­tion for bet­ter con­ser­va­tion and man­age­ment out­comes,” he said.

“What we’ll be do­ing with that info is to load it up on to a free pub­lic ac­cess web­site so peo­ple can see where the sharks are.”

Mr Cooper said sci­en­tists would con­tinue to take skin sam­ples for molec­u­lar pop­u­la­tion stud­ies.

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