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Residency of white sharks, at the Neptune Islands Group Marine Park, Australia

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Huveneers & Lloyd 2017

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Residency of white sharks, Carcharodon carcharias, at the Neptune Islands Group Marine Park
Twenty sharks ranging 2–4.5 m total length (TL) were tagged at the Neptune Islands Group Marine Park between July 2016 and June 2017.
In Australia, the white-shark cage-diving industry began in the late 1970s in waters off the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. The industry is now restricted in operations to the Neptune Islands Marine Park located 60–70 km south of Port Lincoln (Fig. 1), with most cage-diving activities focussed at the North Neptune Islands group. The locality is the only place where cage-diving with white sharks is permitted in Australia. After 2007, the industry expanded from two to three operators and the mean annual number of days when tours operated rose from 124 (2000–2006) to 265 (2008–2011) (Bruce and Bradford 2013). Studies showed that the residency of white sharks at the Neptune Islands changed between these periods and that the spatio-temporal distribution of white sharks is affected by the cage-diving industry (Bruce and Bradford 2013, Huveneers et al. 2013). As a result, DEWNR developed and implemented a new policy to improve management of white shark tourism at the site.

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Limited numbers of operators and days

The policy limits the number of commercial tour operator licences to three and number of days of tourism activity to five days per week. The policy also sets a framework for the adaptive management of the cage-diving industry and trigger points when changes in licensing arrangements should be considered. Since 2013–14, the effects of the cage-diving industry on white sharks has been monitored annually using estimates of residency as defined in Bruce and Bradford (2013) and compared to the trigger points set in Smith and Page (2015)
Receiver deployments Three VR2AR acoustic receivers (Vemco Ltd., Halifax, Canada) were deployed within the Neptune Islands using a low profile sub-surface mooring system that reduces interactions with operators anchors and chains, and white sharks. One VR2AR was deployed at each of the main berleying sites at the North Neptune Islands group and one at the South Neptune Islands group.
Tag deployments Twenty white sharks were tagged with V16-6H acoustic transmitters programmed to send signals at random interval of 70–150 seconds (VEMCO Ltd., Halifax, Canada). Tags were tethered to a Domieir umbrella dart-tag head using a 10- to 15-cm-long stainless wire trace
(1.6 mm diameter).

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