Teaniel Mifsud is a master student (at the University of Wollongong, Australia) who is about to embark on an interesting research project mapping human-shark interactions. Teaniel stopped by Fish Thinkers to share details of the project and how you can assist:
Sharks attract a great deal of interest from the public and the media. We saw this recently when a whale carcass washed up on Bulli Beach in September 2020. Several sharks were drawn to the carcass over a number of days, seeking food. Their presence, along with the whale carcass, brought hundreds of people to the beach and into boats to watch, photograph and video the scene. Numerous articles and videos of this and other events demonstrate intense fascination with sharks. Despite this clear interest, very little is known about encounters between people and sharks outside interactions considered negative; that is, shark bites that lead to injury or death.
Researchers at the University of Wollongong are investigating the full spectrum of human interactions with sharks in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions of New South Wales; those deemed positive, negative and mixed. Understanding the perspectives of this group will add to our understanding of human-shark relations and help inform shark-related policies in New South Wales (NSW). The project aims to understand:
the nature of human-shark encounters and their effects on ocean-users, people who use the ocean for work fitness or recreationally, on the South Coast of NSW; and
if and how human-shark encounter influences a person’s relationship with and use of the ocean and particular places.
Part of this project involves ocean-users recording their experiences and encounters with sharks on an interactive map. This map will allow researchers to understand where people have encountered sharks, what they were doing at the time of the encounter and how they felt about the encounter. If you would like to record your own experiences, please follow this link.
Recently I sat down with Adam Woods (Australian museum science communicator) and journalist Clare Watson to talk about citizen science and its increasing popularity. You can read the resulting article in The Stand and hear about some of the citizen science we have been lucky enough to be involved in—ranging from recreational fishers fishing deep water and sending in records of rarely seen fish, to keen backyard naturalists who are logging sightings of frogs and koalas in the suburbs. You can find the full free to access article here!
At the end of each year we take a quick look back at our blog and social media stats, to see what people were particularly interested in (e.g. see 2017 in review). Here is the 2018 roundup: Continue reading →
The eastern blue devil (Paraplesiops bleekeri). Just one of the fantastic photos in the paper by co-author John Turnbull: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
In our recently published paper, we suggest that the depth range of many reef fish, including the rare and protected eastern blue devil fish, is being systematically underestimated due to sampling bias. We used remotely deployed video samples and recreational fisher observations, to provide examples of fishes living at depths much deeper than the depth range they are ascribed based on the scientific literature. Continue reading →
Voting is currently open in the Australian Society for Fish Biology Student Competition in Science Communication awards 2018 (five days left to vote!). This year there is $3000 in prize money up for grabs. Entry is via a short video showcasing the postgrads research and the public vote on senior (PhD candidates) and junior (Masters and Honours candidates) category entries. This year there is also an additional category that will run at the ASFB conference and will include 50% delegate votes and 50% judging panel votes in deciding the winner.
I have been involved in organising the competition the last few years (and as an entrant in the first year) and I have to say that the quality of the videos on offer this year is exceptionally high across the board. They are well worth taking some time to check out.
You can find all the entries and vote in both categories here. And I encourage you to also think about leaving a comment or two on the videos you enjoy – they take a lot of work to put together and getting feedback always helps make it worth it.
Mary Mackay is a PhD candidate (at the Centre for Marine Socioecology University of Tasmania, Australia) researching the role of incentives, regulations, and nudges in influencing compliance behaviour of marine resource users. I had a chance to catch up with Mary at the recent International Marine Conservation Conference in Malaysia and hear about the work she is currently doing and her recent publication. As it was so interesting, I then convinced her to stop by Fish Thinkers and share the details in the guest post below:
When push comes to shove in recreational fisheries compliance, think ‘nudge’
Common to recreational fishing research is a lack of official reported data, which makes it pretty hard to get a full idea of what’s going on. Continue reading →
Freezing waters surrounded by picturesque scenery on a cold (-15°c) winters day in the Gullmarn Fjord, western Sweden. If you look closely in the water, a curious common seal keeps watch.
Tom Staveley is a Marine spatial ecology & PhD candidate at DEEP Stockholm University and he is currently putting the finishing touches on his thesis. Both of us are living the invandrare life in Sweden at the moment so I got a chance to catch up with him recently and managed to drag him away from the thesis for long enough to give us a run down (below) on some of the research he has been working on.
Fish Patterns in the Seasonal Seascape
Being a marine ecologist in Scandinavia certainly has its advantages: long summer days to do seemingly endless fieldwork, stunning surroundings and surprisingly lush underwater habitats (yes, I’m talking mainly about seagrass but we’ll get to that later). Even in the heart of winter a sublimely frozen wonderland of crisp air, still bays and snow-covered land- and seascapes never ceases to amaze. For the past few years, I have been exploring the coastal waters of western Sweden in the Skagerrak/North Sea focusing my research on seascape ecology – a relatively new branch of marine science focusing on broad-scale patterns and processes in the seas and oceans. Continue reading →
One part of my PhD research was working with NSW DPI and UOW to assess the performance of marine protected areas (MPAs). We recently had an article published in Biological Conservation where we used seafloor mapping to improve the assessment of the Lord Howe Island Marine Park (free download here till July 20th). Here’s a quick rundown on what we found…
As expected, the highly anticipated Blue Planet II series has been nothing short of amazing. This week we are incredibly lucky to have a guest post by shark researcher; Samantha Andrzejaczek who helped film the upcoming Blue Planet episode. Sammy is a PhD candidate at the Australian Institute of Marine Science and University of Western Australia investigating the vertical movement of sharks. She also runs a fantastic blog – www.sammyshark.wordpress.com, which we definitely recommend checking out. Read on to go behind the scenes of Blue Planet II. You can watch the episode this Saturday night (17th) on Channel 9 in Australia. Continue reading →
At the end of each year I like to put up some customary navel gazing i.e. a review of the Fish Thinkers year. It is a summary mainly as a record for myself as I find it useful to look at our blog and social media stats and see what people are particularly interested in. Although there is also the odd chance someone else is vaguely interested—since people have brought up parts of the review before, I guess a few people are anyway. Here is the 2017 review: Continue reading →