Team tags turtles and whale sharks

Pilbara News - - News - Louise Alling­ham

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

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