December 11, 2010 by dyertrust

Saturday 11th December 2010 marked the first annual Bronzie Competition, with theTwo Oceans Angling Clubholding a day long catch and release event in False Bay. Determined anglers battled a strong South Easterly to catch themselves a Bronze Whaler Shark.

Bronze Whalersor Bronzies as they are known locally are a species of requiem shark found worldwide at temperate latitudes. They can grow up to 3 metres in length. Like most species of shark their behaviour and movements are little understood. As a way of improving our knowledge of these beautiful fish theSouth African Shark Conservancy (SASC), with assistance fromSave Our Seas SharkCentre, set about collecting valuable data about the Bronze Whaler population, using the sharks caught during the angling competition. By measuring the size of individuals, recording the sex, taking fin clips which provides genetic information, and tagging each shark caught during the competition, stock assessments can be made and population dynamics analysed.

Marine biologistsAlison Townerand Nick Jones (ofMarine Dynamics) together with Swiss volunteer Ruedi Schwegler represented the Dyer Island Conservation Trust at the event. Along with team leader Adrian Hewitt and Kari Underhill, from Save Our Seas Shark Centre, team I was formed, one of twelve research teams positioned along Strandfontein Beach. Conditions on the day were far from ideal with the wind creating sand storms making life difficult for both anglers and researchers.

Despite this the day was a success with 11 sharks caught and 2 sharks tagged by team I, including one of the largest sharks caught on the day – a 2.55 metre female. The data will be collated by Meaghen McCord of SASC, who uses the physical data and collates movements of individuals; and Adrian Hewitt of Save Our Seas, who uses the genetic data. Ongoing research helps us to better understand the sharks found in the waters around South Africa.

Written by: Nick Jones