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Tiger shark study begins off Big Island

August 27, 2013
The Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - An independent researcher will study movements of tiger sharks around Hawaii island.

Michael Domeier, director of the Fallbrook, Calif.-based Marine Conservation Institute, said that the study will try to determine whether resident sharks patrol specific areas, as some islanders believe.

"I suspect we will show this is not the case," Domeier said. Tiger sharks are attracted by fish cleaned near Honokohau Harbor, he said, and the study may show some linger there.

Tiger sharks are suspected or confirmed in nearly all Hawaii shark attacks. The study was planned months before recent attacks, Domeier said. Eight people have been bitten in 2013, including four in the past three weeks.

Domeier plans to use devices attached to dorsal fins to track tiger sharks by satellite. The tracking devices can last for two years or more. He helped develop the device while tracking the migratory patterns of great white sharks between California and the ocean south of Hawaii.

Nothing about the migrations of great whites made sense until they were tracked to find feeding and reproductive patterns, he said. The tracking and more than 14 years of photo-identification monitoring helped shark experts locate mating and pupping sites.

Domeier and scientist Oscar Sosa-Nishizaki of Mexico established a method for determining whether the population of white sharks was increasing. Domeier's work was featured during two seasons by the National Geographic Channel's "Expedition Great White" and "Shark Men."

Another research project tracking tiger shark migration around Hawaii is planned to begin in September.

The two-year, $186,000 project will study the movement of tiger sharks in Maui waters. The project will look at whether sharks have favorite spots around the Valley Isle. A 20-year-old German visitor, Jana Lutteropp, died Wednesday from injuries suffered in a shark attack on Aug. 14.

The state-funded study conducted by Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology researcher Carl Meyer will use satellite tracking and acoustic devices.

Scientists, Domeier said, have not tracked tiger sharks in Hawaii long enough to spot trends.

"I think they have predictable migratory patterns," Domeier said.

* Tiger shark study. Michael Domeier is president and executive director of the Marine Conservation Science Institute, based in Fallbrook, Calif. Lance Morgan is president of the Marine Conservation Institute, based in Seattle. An Associated Press story published on Page A3 on Tuesday connected Domeier with the wrong organization.

 
 

 

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