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August 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 28, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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New Research: Shark Feeding May Not Affect Behavior

from the August, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Shark-based tourism that uses bait to reliably attract shark so that divers can view them is a growing industry, but remains controversial. Some people argue it irretrievably changes shark behavior, but one study, recently published online at PLOS ONE, suggests the contrary. Here is a summary.

Over seven years, the study's two researchers tracked 48 bull sharks from a long-term shark feeding site at Fiji's Shark Reef Marine Reserve, and reefs along the Beqa Channel on the southern coast of Viti Levu. It became apparent that the sharks are not permanent residents of the marine reserve, but use the broader southern coast of Viti Levu as their stomping ground. While individual behavior varied, most are attracted to the feeding site if they're in the area, regardless of whether it's a feeding or non-feeding day, but they remain for more consecutive hours on feeding days. Some nearby individuals do not come to the feeding site, even if food is being offered....

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