Wednesday, November 19, 2008

White Sharks In Tonga? Update

As we covered last week three "archival pop up tags" have begun transmitting in the waters of Tonga from a group of 6 great whites tagged off of New Zealand's Chatham Islands.

Yesterday one of the tags was recovered allowing researchers a deeper look into the data stored on that tag. To say this latest tracking data is "epic" is an understatement. It opens a whole new chapter into the migratory habits of the worlds foremost oceanic predator:

One of three electronic transponders so far discarded near Tonga by great white sharks tagged at the Chatham Islands has been recovered from the Ha'ateiho Reef.

Details of the sharks that have travelled to Tonga from the Chathams are:

1. 4m long male tagged at Star Keys, 14 April 2008, pop-up location Ha'ateiho Beach, Tongatapu;

2. 4.5m long male tagged at Star Keys, 15 April 2008, pop-up location c. 50 km northwest of Tongatapu;

3. 4.5m long female tagged at Te Awapatiki, 19 April 2008, pop-up location c. 135 km south of Eua. (Clinton Duffy, lead investigator, said that this shark may have visited Pelorus Reef but the tag actually started transmitting over deep water east of the reef, so it could have visited any of the sea mounts in that area).

"This is the first time we have tracked great whites to the waters of Tonga. Previously we have had great white sharks tagged at the Chathams travel to New Caledonia and Vanuatu".

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