Tagged shark: Snorkel divers find same ragged-tooth female 20 years later

2010-10-12 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board’s snorkel divers have recovered a ragged-tooth female shark at Zinkwazi more than 20 years after it was tagged by the board’s staff in January 1990 at Leven Point.

In a statement the sharks board said it is believed this is the longest recorded time at liberty for the shark species in southern Africa, possibly in the world. It was recaptured 7 436 days later, which translates to 20 years and seven months.

The previous record for time at liberty for a tagged ragged-tooth shark in southern Africa was 12 years and seven months.

Sabine Wintner, senior scientist with the sharks board, said it has been tagging sharks and rays since 1976 and to date has tagged over 6 000 of them.

She said the the sharks board has been an active member of the National Tagging Programme since its inception in 1984.

“Most of the tagging has taken place near Leven Point in the St Lucia Marine Reserve,” Wintner said.

She said the snorkel divers use a pole sling to insert a dart tag with a stainless steel head and plastic streamer to tag a shark.

“The ragged-tooth shark recaptured at Zinkwazi was tagged in this manner in January 1990 at Leven Point. At the time of tagging it was already mature female,” Wintner said.

She said that although the shark was recovered dead on September 9, the sharks board has released the information only now because it first had to verify the accuracy of the record.

“We have since taken relevant biological information, like weight, length and other bio-information … the information is going to be kept in our database,” Wintner said.

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