Marine Biology

, Volume 160, Issue 4, pp 889–907 | Cite as

The effects of shark cage-diving operations on the behaviour and movements of white sharks, Carcharodon carcharias, at the Neptune Islands, South Australia

  • Barry D. BruceEmail author
  • Russell W. Bradford
Original Paper


The attraction or provisioning of sharks for the purpose of tourism is a lucrative and popular industry that remains controversial regarding its possible risks to target species and impacts on local ecosystems. The long-term impacts of such activities on the behaviour and movement patterns of sharks have typically been difficult to establish as most studies investigate contemporary behaviour concurrent with existing operations and thus have no comparative base from which to compare effects. We compared patterns of residency and behaviour of acoustic-tagged white sharks at the Neptune Islands in South Australia between periods before and after an abrupt and sustained doubling of cage-diving effort that occurred in 2007. The number of sharks reported by cage-dive operators significantly increased after 2007. Comparisons also revealed there were significant increases in sharks’ periods of residency, the periods spent within areas where shark cage-diving operations occur and changes in sharks’ diel pattern of habitat use. Changes were site-specific with no significant differences in shark behaviour revealed over the same period at an island group 12 km from regular shark cage-dive sites. The results suggest that cage-diving operations can lead to long-term changes in the site-specific behaviour of a highly vagile shark species which may need to be considered in the context of their conservation and in managing the impacts of the industry.


Killer Whale Island Group White Shark Diel Pattern Acoustic Monitoring 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by a donation from Calypso Star Charters (Pty. Ltd.) and a grant from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, South Australia. Specific resources crucial to the success of the project were supplied by the Australian Animal Tracking and Monitoring System, Calypso Star Charters and the Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions. We specifically thank the following people for advice and assistance during the project: Philipp Berens, Andrew W-D’fur-T Boomer, Mark Bravington, Ron Forster, Andrew Fox, Charlie Huveneers, Kent Stannard, Phil McDowell, Rachel Robbins, and Andrew Wright. The 2001–2003 study was supported by a grant from the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Heritage (Canberra). Some data for this study were sourced from the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) - IMOS is supported by the Australian Government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy and the Super Science Initiative. All tagging procedures were ratified by an independent Animal Ethics Committee (Tasmanian DPIPWE Animal Ethics permits: AEC 46/2002-03; AEC 40/2004-05; AEC 23/2006-07; AEC 5/2007-08; AEC 26/2009-10), and operations were carried out at the Neptune Islands under a South Australian S115 ministerial exemption 9902123. The manuscript was greatly improved via comments by Malcolm Francis and two anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CSIRO Wealth from Oceans FlagshipCSIRO Marine and Atmospheric ResearchHobartAustralia

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