New Tactic Cuts Shark Attacks, Saves Sharks
In Brazil, dangerous ones are relocated to deep waters
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 8, 2014 6:40 PM CDT
A Sand Tiger Shark swims in its aquarium.   (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

(Newser) – Researchers in Brazil say they've found a way to curb shark attacks without culling sharks—which, if true, is good news for conservationists who oppose lethal means of controlling sharks in South Africa and Australia, LiveScience reports. The Brazilian program was tried off and on for nearly 10 years after shark attacks spiked in 1992, possibly because a newly constructed port complex upset their habitat. Instead of following the South African and Australian method of using gill nets—which often suffocate sharks to death and ensnare other marine animals—state officials opted to capture sharks, take them to deep waters, and let them go.

They did this by deploying fishing lines that hooked sharks (and other sea life) along a 12-mile sweep of shoreline in northeastern Brazil, Science reports. A crew often checked the lines for possibly dangerous sharks like black tips, tiger sharks, and bull sharks, and motored them away in saltwater tanks on a boat. Over 73 months, they caught 1,121 animals, 7% of which were shark species worth relocating; 60% of them survived the process, as did 78% of other marine life that was caught and released. The tactic may not work everywhere, researchers admit, but it did reduce shark attacks around the city of Recife, Brazil, from 0.289 per month to 0.014 per month. What's more, reports Mother Nature Network, the study authors write that relocated sharks "did not move back to nearshore waters off Recife ... and did not experience post-release mortality." (Read about a surge of great whites near a Cape Cod town.)

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Showing 3 of 15 comments
Jerman
Aug 9, 2014 10:11 AM CDT
If we could only use these nets to secure our southern border.
RLM357
Aug 9, 2014 8:38 AM CDT
Can we figure out how to use these NETS in the District of Columbia, on the WH and thier fellow travelers? I would overlook their survival stats, as long as they are Very Low. After that, we could conentrate on the Judicial System. Maybe Mexico or Guatamala would accept some of the overflow.. ~Rick M\agee, "MOLON LABE
JJ
Aug 9, 2014 5:14 AM CDT
Crunching the numbers, with 1121 total "animals" captured over 6 years, only 47 were actual sharks relocated as intended. (60% survivors of the total 7% sharks captured.) That's less than 8 sharks per year! The other 1043 "animals" were probably seals, dolphins, walruses, manatees, giant turtles, manta rays, swordfish, etc. and 230 of these innocent "animals" had to die while the other 813 were forcefully removed from their habitat, splitting up their families and pods. How is this program considered a success? No shark would come back to shore in search of food when it was given 813 live, lost, disoriented, (and probably very weak) "animals", (with no familiar place for them to hide in the open waters) along with 261 carcasses of these "animals" (which includes the dead sharks that didn't survive) for them to eat, instead?