The acute physiological status of white sharks exhibits minimal variation after capture on SMART drumlines

Published on
13. August 2019

The acute physiological status of white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) exhibits minimal variation after capture on SMART drumlines

R D Tate, B R Cullis, S D A Smith, B P Kelaher, C P Brand, C R Gallen, J W Mandelman, P A Butcher


Drumlines incorporating SMART (Shark-Management-Alert-in-Real-Time) technology are a new tool used in several bather protection programmes globally. In New South Wales (NSW), Australia, the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) is a target species for SMART drumlines because they are often involved in attacks on humans. To understand white shark sensitivity to capture and to establish protocols around acceptable timeframes for responding to alerts, 47 juvenile and subadult white sharks were caught on SMART drumlines at five locations off the east coast of Australia. There was no at-vessel mortality during the sampling period. After capture, blood was sampled from each shark to assess its acute physiological status. Of the 18 metabolites investigated, only lactate and aspartate aminotransferase exhibited significant positive relationships with the capture duration on SMART drumlines. These results indicate that the capture process is relatively benign and that the current response times used here are appropriate to minimize long-term negative impacts on released white sharks. Where white sharks are likely to interact negatively with beachgoers, SMART drumlines can therefore be a useful addition to bather protection programmes that also aim to minimize harm to captured animals. Other shark species captured on SMART drumlines should also be investigated to gain broader understanding of potential physiological consequences of using this new technology.

Conservation Physiology, Volume 7, Issue 1, 2019, DOI: 10.1093/conphys/coz042


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