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Tagging tiger sharks sheds light on predator

A lecture next week will shed new light on the habits of young sharks in Bermuda waters.

Choy Aming, co-founder of the Bermuda Shark Project, will give a talk about fresh information on baby tiger sharks, a study which followed a decade of research into adults of the species.

Mr Aming, who gave a talk on his research at New York's Explorers' Club last week, has spent the past three years attaching satellite tags to the smaller animals and has discovered that they tend to stay closer to shore than adults.

He explained: “I have managed to find a place where the little ones of about three to four feet are common, so I have been working on putting tags on them.

“Just finding them was tricky but it seems that they are much closer to shore — there is a little area you have to go about two miles off shore to find them.”

Mr Aming said: “I didn't know anything about them at all, except the odd time someone caught one, but now I have satellite tags out, I am starting to understand how they move in the reef and how they use it, which is all new.

“They use the reef more than initially thought — I don't know what they are eating per se but I am slowly figuring out their hunting strategies.

“It seems they spend their time in the reef at night and move just off the reef platform in the day.”

Mr Aming launched the Bermuda Shark Project in 2005 with the late veterinarian Neil Burnie.

They tagged about 50 adult sharks, which led to the discovery of an annual tiger shark migration from the Caribbean to Bermuda.

They also worked on tagging Galapagos sharks around the island.

Mr Aming launched the latest stage of his research with sponsorship from the Bermuda Zoological Society and private donations.

He tagged about five juveniles and said he wanted to tag more in the next few years to collect more information.

Mr Aming, a senior aquarist at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, said: “I am mainly working by myself on this now with the help of a few assistants and am putting out one or two tags a year.

“I am slowly building it up and hope to go for five or ten years before I get enough individuals to make some concrete conclusions. Once you have 15 or 20 tags out, you can really start to understand the patterns.”

Mr Aming discussed the Bermuda Shark Project at the Explorers' Club.

He said: “The event was sold out.

“Love them or hate them, everybody likes to hear about sharks and it went over really well.

“I got to meet some cool people including one guy who is on the front line of Costa Rican fisheries conservation.

“He is just getting into satellite tagging and I am interested in the advocacy stuff so we might be able to help each other very nicely.”

Mr Aming's island lecture will be delivered at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo's Aquarium Hall on November 26 at 7pm.

The event is free, but donations, which will be used to support the Junior Volunteer Borneo Expedition, will be accepted.

Choy Aming, shark researcher, tagging a juvenile tiger shark (Photograph by Alexandra Quinn-Sirera)

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Published November 16, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated November 16, 2019 at 12:46 am)

Tagging tiger sharks sheds light on predator

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