KEEPING TABS: Lady Elliot Island Tiger Shark Tagging Richard Fitzpatrick, a shark specialist from Biopixel Oceans Foundation and Amy Gash.
KEEPING TABS: Lady Elliot Island Tiger Shark Tagging Richard Fitzpatrick, a shark specialist from Biopixel Oceans Foundation and Amy Gash.

WATCH: Keeping tabs on ‘Amy’ the tiger shark at Lady Elliot

WHAT'S 3.5m long, more than 250kg and is being tracked off the coast of Lady Elliot Island?

Amy - the female tiger shark that's recently been satellite tagged and is swimming around the popular Lady Elliot Island.

Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort executive assistant to the general manager Amy Gash said in the past few weeks there had been multiple tiger shark sightings around the island, which wasn't uncommon for this time of year, and they felt a responsibility to ensure their guests and team were aware of these sightings.

 

❕On Tuesday 14th January Richard Fitzpatrick from Biopixel Oceans Foundation and the #ladyelliotislandecoresort team...

Posted by Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort on Thursday, 23 January 2020

 

 

She said encounters carried on for quite a few weeks, ranging from shallow to deep water sightings, so they contacted Richard Fitzpatrick, a shark specialist from Biopixel Oceans Foundation, regarding possible strategies around shark mitigation and deterrent measures.

"Shark stigma is mixed across Australia and on Lady Elliot Island we strongly believe that there are many nonlethal measures that can be used to prevent shark incidents," Ms Gash said.

"Knowledge of the movement patterns of these animals is essential in being able to manage our interactions.

"What we learnt from Richard was that there is little known research regarding tiger shark movements on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef as opposed to other areas of the reef where Biopixel have tagged multiple tiger sharks."

 

KEEPING TABS: Lady Elliot Island Tiger Shark Tagging.
KEEPING TABS: Lady Elliot Island Tiger Shark Tagging.

Ms Gash said on January 14, Mr Fitzpatrick and the Lady Elliot Island team satellite tagged the first ever tiger shark on the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

In the past nine days, Amy the tiger shark has travelled about 30km at an average speed of 0.13kmh.

Amy was fitted with an underbelly acoustic transmitter 'pinger' and a fin-mounted satellite tag.

The Acoustic Transmitter 'pinger' produces ultrasonic pings that can be heard using a hydrophone (underwater microphone) and receiver.

 

 

KEEPING TABS: Amy the tiger shark has travelled for more than 9 days and covered over 30km, while remaining local to her tagging site.
KEEPING TABS: Amy the tiger shark has travelled for more than 9 days and covered over 30km, while remaining local to her tagging site.

 

Ms Gash said Lady Elliot Island has a number of acoustic listening stations around the island and these stations would be used in tracking the sharks' location.

"Satellite tracking works using a tag/transmitter capable of sending an identifying signal to satellites. Biopixel use their own network argos network," she said.

"These satellites, cruising around earth about 850kms above us, receive the signal then relay the information to receiving stations back here on earth.

"This information is then processed and made available to the researchers.

"In order for the satellite tag to provide the data the marine animal needs to break the surface regularly so the transmitter can send a signal to the satellites - transmission cannot occur through water."

 

KEEPING TABS: Lady Elliot Island Tiger Shark Tagging.
KEEPING TABS: Lady Elliot Island Tiger Shark Tagging.

She said while he had the opportunity, Mr Fitzpatrick complete body measurements as well as retrieve a DNA and fin sample.

Ms Gash was the only female on deck when they tagged the shark and inspired her name.

With catch, tag and release at the heart of the operation, Ms Gash said they hoped to gain important research and behavioural information about tiger sharks on the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

She said education was important and they wanted to ensure their guests knew that these "beautiful creatures are in the water and that we swim alongside them".

"Sharks are essential to the health of the ocean, they are top predators, helping to regulate and maintain the balance of marine ecosystems all around the world," Ms Gash said.

"On Lady Elliot Island we are excited to have been a part of this research."

To see where Amy is, visit https://citizensgbr.org/explore/reef-tracks/b-amy


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