RESEARCH

ABOUT OUR RESEARCH

Delimiter Shark

Research at SASC falls under several key themes. Together these themes are designed to provide baseline data on sharks and their habitats, track changes over time, and contribute to management and conservation of vulnerable species. In addition to research, we focus on changing public perceptions about sharks through various education projects. Our goal is to promote better understanding of the role of sharks in marine ecosystems for conservation and stewardship purposes.

BIODIVERSITY AND ECOLOGY

Using non-invasive survey techniques like Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) and Aerial Visual Surveys (AVS), we are assessing the biodiversity and ecology of the Cape Whale Coast Hope Spot. This research focuses on three distinct management zones including marine protected areas and exploited areas and is focused on assessing the baseline characteristics of this global biodiversity hotspot. Ultimately, we will track ecological changes as a function of changing climate and human use patterns.

SHARKS AND ECOSYSTEMS

Sharks are thought to play important roles in maintaining the health and integrity of the ecosystems in which they live. However, few long-term data series exist, particularly in developing nations like South Africa, to track how changes in the abundance and distribution of sharks impacts ecosystem health. We have tagged 3200 sharks as part of our Sharks and Ecosystems Project.

BLUE ECONOMY PROJECT

Oceans are key climate regulators, provide food for millions of people and are engines for economic growth. The Blue Economy is an emerging concept that seeks to balance economic growth, social inclusion, environmental sustainability and improved livelihoods of coastal communities. However, balancing these varied needs is incredibly complex and exceedingly difficult in the developing world. This project focuses on developing an ecosystem and ocean accounting system similar to the concept of GDP National Accounting Systems – for improved spatial management of sustainable ocean economies in the Overberg Region.

SHARKS AND FISHERIES

We are building on anecdotal data to quantify interactions between sharks and fisheries, with the objective of identifying critical habitats for improved protection. The focus of this research includes commercially valuable and endemic sharks, and aims to work together with recreational and commercial fishers to improve management strategies for vulnerable species.

SHARK PARASITOLOGY AND ECOTOXICOLOGY

In collaboration with Northwest University and led by Dr. Bjoern Schaeffner and Dr. Ruan Gerber, we are assessing the biodiversity of poorly known shark parasites and the impacts of pollution on shark health. Having evolved over 440 million years, sharks are host to a unique array of endo and ectoparasites which have co-evolved and adapted to keep their hosts healthy. Despite this long co-evolutionary process, many of these parasites are now experiencing localized extinctions due to the continued over exploitation of sharks. This project provides basic biodiversity assessments of these important fauna, describes the taxonomy of species and quantifies how parasites influence the absorption of toxins into vital organs of sharks.

SHARKS AND MARINE PROTECTED AREAS

South Africa possesses one of the most diverse assemblages of sharks in the world. However, as a developing country, many species are threatened by poor management, illegal harvesting and habitat degradation. This project aims to identify sharks, skates and stingrays which can be used as umbrella species when identifying and declaring new marine protected areas (MPAs) and/or special management zones. Our research is currently focused in the Betty’s Bay Marine Protected Area.

RESEARCH TECHNIQUES

Delimiter Shark

We use a suite of techniques to conduct our research.

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Baited Remote Underwater Video

Perception & Knowledge Surveys

Diving & Snorkeling Surveys

Conventional Tagging

Ecological Monitoring

Taxonomy & Morphometrics

Acoustic Telemetry

Spacial Analyses

Handline Fishing

Longline Fishing

Drone Surveys

Genetics

RELEVANT FIELD ACTIVITIES

Delimiter Shark

Find out how we conduct our research on sharks and their ecosystems.

CONTACT US

Do you have questions about our work, or would you like to learn more about our programs? We would love to hear from you! Fill out our contact form and we will get in touch as soon as possible.