'Shark spy' project receives $19k grant

A "shark spy'' monitoring programme that aims to shed more light on mysteries about sharks off the Otago coast has gained a $19,974 grant.

The shark study initiative was among a series of community research projects around Otago which have been granted about $150,000 in Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment "Curious Minds'' funding.

The funding is administered by the Otago Museum through a MBIE-funded Otago Participatory Science Platform, which aims to boost community involvement in science and science research.

The shark project will be co-ordinated by Sally Carson, the University of Otago's New Zealand Marine Studies Centre director, who said Dunedin was a "hot spot'' for shark abundance and diversity.

However, the lack of basic information about many of the species and their population structure had limited conservation, management and policy initiatives.

It was hoped to involve about eight city schools, mainly secondary schools, in the community data-gathering project, Ms Carson said.

There was a lack of data about the "captivating and enigmatic shark species'' in coastal waters around New Zealand, project organisers said.

Baited remote underwater video cameras at set locations around the Otago coastline would help survey local shark populations.

Survey boat trips would also be carried out monthly until April next year, and there would also be community talks, events and training workshops, organisers said.



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