Sad end to tiger shark’s long journey from Australia to PNG
A SHARK that was recorded swimming thousands of kilometres between Australia and Papua New Guinea appears to have met an unfortunate demise.
Scientists from the Biopixel Oceans Foundation were initially delighted last week when a satellite tracker fitted to Zuza, a 2.5m long tiger shark, showed the apex predator had swum from Cairns to Papua New Guinea, chalking up nearly 4000km over an 18-month period.
The discovery was the longest range of a tiger shark tagged under the long-term Great Barrier Reef satellite and acoustic transmitter tracking program, funded by the Slattery Family Trust.
However the foundation has since announced the latest readings it has been receiving from Zuza's tracker showed the shark may no longer be alive, after last been recorded in the shallows off Porebada near Port Moresby.
Biopixel researcher Richard Fitzpatrick said it appeared Zuza had been caught, possibly on a boat or jetty.
"The pings we were getting and a lack of change in location, indicate she would be dead," he said.
"The makers of the tag have been analysing the data, which has been a bit sporadic.
"One reason for this is that the satellite is only overhead at that latitude for less than 15 per cent of the day.
"We are looking at the possibility of someone trying go visit the village to retrieve the tag and find out what happened."
Tiger sharks, one of the most feared shark species in the world, are only protected from fishing if they are found within no-take zones of the Great Barrier Reef marine park.
Mr Fitzpatrick said while it was a disappointing result for Zuza, this week he caught and tagged for the first time a tiger shark, on the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef.
The 250kg female, nicknamed "Amy" was fitted with a satellite tracker off Lady Elliot Island on Tuesday.
"The shark had been hanging around - not lurking and not menacing," Mr Fitzpatrick said.
"It was a good opportunity to satellite tag our first tiger in the southern GBR: a great partnership between responsible tourism and science."
To date, 17 tiger sharks have been tagged under the satellite tracking program.
To follow the journeys of tagged sharks, head to https://citizensgbr.org/explore/reef-tracks