A growing body of scientific evidence indicates sharks suffer lethal and non-lethal physiological and metabolic stress responses during mating and birthing, as well as from fishing activities and in captive aquarium environments. Our shark stress research has been running since 2010, during which time we have worked in the field with recreational shark fishers and run experimental research in the Shark Lab.

From 2010-2014 SASC ran a research project specifically aimed at understanding the impacts of catch and release fishing for sharks in South Africa. RecFishSA was funded by the Save Our Seas Foundation (read the project blog here) between 2012-2014, and has received the continued support of the South African Shark Angling Association (SASAA).

Our shark stress research is currently lab-based, where we continue to investigate the non-lethal impacts of stress by monitoring hormone levels in captive animals.

Project Aims

This project uses a combination of field- and lab-based research techniques to:

  1. quantify the socio-economic value of catch and release fishing for sharks in South Africa;
  2. quantify knowledge, behaviour and attitudes of recreational shark fishers in SA through targeted surveys.
  3. determine species overlap between recreational and commercial fisheries for improving co-management strategies;
  4. document catch per unit effort fluctuations and changes in species composition over time;
  5. quantify species-specific metabolic and physiological responses to captive and wild stressors.

Research Techniques

We employ a number of research techniques to help answer our project aims. These include:

  • blood lactate & glucose analysis
  • fecal hormone analysis
  • conventional tagging (mark-recapture)
  • desktop research
  • angler surveys