Effective species conservation requires the protection of all stages of its life-cycle. The Shark Reef Marine Reserve (SRMR) in Fiji is a marine protected area where large numbers of adult bull sharks ( Carcharhinus leucas ) congregate due to food provisioning. At the end of a calendar year bull sharks leave the area for reproductive activity, but parturition sites are still unknown. Between February 2014 and January 2015, we interviewed local fishermen and conducted a fishing survey, so as to assess presence and abundance of bull sharks in the Navua River near the SRMR. In total 84% of fishermen reported either seeing or catching sharks up to 8 km upriver from the river mouth. They described them as small sharks having a rounded snout and being grey–brown in colour with a white belly, morphological characteristics that match juvenile bull sharks. During the fishing survey, a total of nine juvenile bull sharks were captured, including two that were recaptured after 108 and 92 days at liberty. Our findings confirmed the presence of bull sharks in the Navua River and provide a preliminary characterisation of a potential shark parturition or nursery area from a data-poor region.
Marine & Freshwater Research – CSIRO Publishing
Published: May 24, 2016
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