Sunday, September 5, 2010

First week of monitoring brings some BIG surprises…

The first few days of the in-water monitoring programme brought more than a few unexpected moments. The first day saw an impressive 10 in-water encounters which we all hoped was a sign of great things to come… the 10 encounters after completion of photo ID revealed only 1 new shark and 3 previously identified sharks.

August 31st dawned with reasonable flying conditions and after the morning flight the pilots reported a total of 27 sharks by aerial survey, most of which were in the North…. So we just had to go see who they were!

Well going and seeing were easy… trying to work out who they were was going to be a severe test for both the interns and the team leaders as there were basically three groups of feeding sharks that were alternately charging around feeding on the surface amongst several thousand fusilier fish before submerging, swapping groups and then repeating the whole process!

Once back in the office it appeared we had logged 27 encounters but sorting out the photos was going to take some considerable time. What was apparent was that there were a number of large sharks of 7 metres or more with one close to 10 metres in length…. Such large sharks are very unusual for Seychelles and so perhaps not so surprisingly most were ‘New’ sharks when identified by photo ID.

The first of September arrived with a distinct change in conditions and also shark numbers with a notable decline in the number of sharks reported from the aerial survey; however, we were able to get out for a third consecutive day logging 16 encounters with 7 sharks, 3 new and 4 which had been seen previously.

The rest of the week was a bit of a wash-out with rain and strong winds preventing the micro-light from getting into the air, but the days were certainly not wasted as the team had plenty to do in terms of sorting out the data from the first three days…

The Seychelles Met Office reckons that this period of rain is nearly over with the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone moving North of the Equator once again so we should be back in the water very soon!

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