Friday, October 14, 2011

14/10/11 Giving the Lemon sharks a helping hand

Every year around late September Lemon sharks in the Seychelles enter shallow waters to give birth to their young. The juvenile sharks spend the first few weeks of their lives hiding amongst the safety of mangrove roots close to the shore.

Here at Cap Ternay we are lucky to have such mangrove systems next to base and at the end of September we had our first glimpse of this season’s juvenile sharks. They are very inquisitive animals and are happy to investigate you by swimming around your legs as you stand in the mangroves.

This week we were visited by one of our project partners the Marine Conservation Society of the Seychelles (MCSS). As part of their ongoing shark tagging project within the Seychelles they planned to insert acoustic tags within the juvenile sharks so that their progress could be tracked over the coming months and years.

Catching the sharks was relatively easy with three of five identified individuals swimming almost immediately into the net deployed to catch them. MCSS had decided to relocate the baby sharks to Baie Ternay where they would be better protected from fisherman.

After the short drive to Baie Ternay acoustic tags were skillfully inserted by the MCSS scientist into two of the three sharks (a male and a female). By turning the sharks on their backs they were placed into a state of tonic immobility allowing them to be carefully handled. Making a small incision the tags were inserted before sewing them back up and releasing them into the calm waters of the bay.

These tags will now provide valuable information regarding the sharks future movements in and out of the bay. We wish them luck!

The MCSS scientist makes an incision in the juvenile shark

Each shark was measured before it was released