Team tags turtles and whale sharks
The Ningaloo Outlook team has completed its tagging of turtles and whale sharks off the Ningaloo Reef.
The turtle and shark tagging operations of Ningaloo Outlook aim to better understand the species’ population and movements.
Project leader Mat Vanderklift said the team was happy after capturing and tagging 26 turtles over three days.
Satellite tags were attached to six of the turtles the team captured.
The Ningaloo Outlook team ran a competition for Exmouth schoolchildren to name the turtles being tracked by satellite.
Coral, Crush, Salty, Lucky, Cecil and Reef are now “transmitting happily” and can be tracked via www.seaturtle.org.
The team is now tagging whale sharks after being given a $400,000 funding boost from BHP Billiton.
CSIRO researcher Richard Pillans is managing the whale shark tagging and research.
“We’re finding out more about whale sharks but we’re finding out more about the ecosystem as well,” he said.
“If whale sharks are keyed into events that we don’t understand, we can (figure out) why all the whale sharks all descend down to one spot and we can potentially do other research in that area to find out why they go there.”
Mr Pillans said one of the biggest challenges of the project was getting the tags to stay on the animals.
“As long as the tags are attached we’ll get good information on where the sharks go,” he said.
They will be tagging 20 sharks — 10 with satellite tags and 10 with acoustic tags.
We’re finding out more about whale sharks but we’re finding out more about the ecosystem as well. Richard Pillans