June 9, 2023

Tiger sharks are coming home

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PhD student Oliver Dubock working with the Overseas Territories Environmental Programme (OTEP) and the Dept of Environment prepares to release a tagged tiger shark off Grand Cayman.

Luiza and Coco, two Tiger Sharks whose movements have been monitored for several months by special satellite tagging devices, were coming home to Cayman Waters.

The third shark, Tina, was last heard of off Jamaica in May, but Coco is in the deep water off Grand Cayman at present. “What is most interesting is that Luiza was last heard of off Honduras – Nicaragua in August, but she has come home for a visit and we are watching to see when she will leave us again on her voyage around the Caribbean,” said a spokesperson for Marine Conservation International, one of the groups who took part in the survey.

All three sharks have travelled up and around the western Caribbean Sea, nearing the Gulf of Mexico at times and visiting Cuba and Jamaica.

The three sharks were given satellite tags as part of a collaborative project between the Department of Environment (DoE), Marine Conservation International (MCI), the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) at Nova Southeastern University and the Save Our Seas Foundation.

The project is undertaking an extensive survey of the sharks around the Cayman Islands and has given us information on what species there are and threats to our large marine animals. Studies elsewhere have shown that where large sharks have been fished out, the resulting catch of desirable fish for the fishers has drastically changed and reduced in species

Luiza, an eight foot female tiger shark tagged in Grand Cayman in December last year 2010. Photo by Guy Harvey.

and numbers. The current study will provide information on the situation in the Cayman Islands and help to prevent such a disastrous situation for our waters.

There is good news for sharks in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico – because of a ban on shark fishing by Belize, Mexico, St. Maarten, Honduras and the Bahamas.

Timothy Austin, Deputy Director of the DoE, welcomed the ban, “This will give a boost to the health of the marine environment for the Caribbean,” he said.

The long migration paths of our three tigers show the sharks using large parts of the Caribbean Sea. Dr. Mauvis Gore of  Marine Conservation International noted, “The tracks show us the extensive areas that the tiger sharks need to patrol for food and in turn help to keep a balance in the seas.”

 

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