Poster Presentation Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference 2022

Predicting bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) presence in Southern Queensland waters and the probability of human – shark incidents (#214)

Stephani Lopes 1 , Jane Williamson 1 , Culum Brown 1
  1. Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Shark-human interactions are disturbing and often traumatic for everyone involved (Curtis et al., 2012). As a preventive measure, the Queensland Shark Control Program (QSCP) makes use of nets and drumlines alongside popular beaches on the Queensland coast (Holmes et al., 2012). However, this strategy is lethal for marine wildlife (Adams et al., 2020; Gibbs et al., 2019), and many have also incurred a large by-catch of non-target species, including threatened and endangered species. (Gribble et al., 1998; Gibbs et al., 2019). To contribute with the use of non-lethal strategies to avoid shark-human interactions, including public education, this study will use rainfall and sea surface temperature (SST) as environmental variables to predict the presence of bull sharks in southern Queensland waters based on 26 years of catch data from the QSCP. We then relate catch data to reported shark incidents in the Taronga Shark Incident File. We focus on SE Queensland because the stretch of coast is heavily populated. We predict that as rainfall increases the chances of bull sharks moving into shallow waters will also increase, particularly in the vicinity of rivers, resulting in higher probability of human – shark incidents. These data will contribute to a public education program run by Queensland Fisheries highlighting the increased risk of shark incidents after heavy rainfall.