Hurawalhi resort is deploying remote underwater cameras to monitor and research shark populations and abundance.
Using Manta Trust’s “Eyes On The Reef” (EOTR) systems – which are go-pros with battery backs submerged underwater for extended periods of time – the Hurawalhi marine biologists will be conducting surveys on sharks at popular dive site Kahlifushifaru.
The marine biologists made the decision after noting an incredible number of shark sightings during dives.
“Having looked over the past twelve months of recorded sightings during scuba dives at KFFK, we found that there were 7,371 grey reef shark sightings during 174 dives alone, which equates to an average of 42 per dive! Not only did we see this many grey reef sharks during the dives, but there were also 2,408 silvertip sharks (ave. 14 per dive) and 2,914 spotted eagle rays (ave. 17 per dive) recorded! This is a massive amount of sharks to be seen at one dive site – and when we see a lot of sharks, it’s a really positive sign of a healthy reef.” the marine biologists Louis and Kat said in a blog post.
The EOTR system will capture time-lapse images throughout the day, which provide snapshots into shark behaviour and abundance. The team will collect data on number of individuals, aggregation times, and the best times to see sharks.
They will also be using drone technology to monitor the juvenile blacktip reef shark population near Hurawalhi, the marine biologists revealed.
“Using drones means that we can study the behaviour and movement of these animals without disturbing them, gaining a much truer insight as they will not be affected by human interaction. We hope to pinpoint key areas around the resort that are especially important for their growth and development, so we can focus our efforts into protecting these areas.”
The EOTR system was developed by the Manta Trust to monitor manta ray aggregation during peak manta seasons. The cameras can be deployed for unto 7 days underwater, collecting data for 12 hours a day.
The EOTR technology has previously used in Hurawalhi to monitor and study Lhaviyani’s manta population by the Manta Trust.
Photo: Jasmine Corbett