Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science
The thermal physio-ecology of the white shark Carcharodon carcharias
The white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, is an apex marine predator. White shark activity patterns are linked to seasonal environmental variables such as water temperature, water clarity, current pattern and prey abundance. Aspects of the thermal physio-ecology of the white shark have been investigated, but these studies were restricted by low sample sizes of mainly small individuals and were conducted over short periods. In South African waters, white sharks congregate in coastal areas and their residency times are very high. Investigating their thermal physio-ecology here is therefore more feasible than in any other part of the world.
This project aims to investigate the thermal physio-ecology of the white shark, providing insights into its thermal niche and thermal physiological abilities, using advanced telemetry methods and anatomical dissections. The study will be conducted at Mossel Bay, a well known white shark aggregation site. The sheltered nature of the bay allows for the continuous monitoring and tracking of individuals for reasonably long periods. This will allow us to monitor the response of tagged individuals to changes in environmental conditions.
Ryan Johnson of SAMPLA is a co-supervisor of this project.