LETTING GO: DPI researchers tag and release a shark caught on a SMART drumline off the Coffs Coast.
LETTING GO: DPI researchers tag and release a shark caught on a SMART drumline off the Coffs Coast. NSWDPI

Shark tagging trial delivers new insight into behaviour

EIGHTY Great White sharks have been caught and tagged along the NSW North Coast in a five month trial of drumlines.

The sharks, which were up to four metres long, were caught after 10 drumlines were placed between Coffs Harbour and Sawtell, along with Foster and Tuncurry, and researchers say most swim away from beaches.

The trial finishes on the Coffs Coast today but drumlines further up the coast will remain with a later finish to the exercise.

Across NSW 320 white, bull and tiger sharks have been tagged and Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair says the trial has provided invaluable insight for scientists.

"We want to make sure we are continually testing the science, trialling world-first technology, while keeping our local communities part of the conversation,” he said.

DPI's Fisheries Research Director, Dr Natalie Moltschaniwskyj, said since since August 2017 there had been 15 sharks caught, tagged and released at Coffs Harbour with a further 64 sharks at Forster-Tuncurry.

"Preliminary findings suggest once tagged the sharks - mostly juveniles and sub-adults - then stay in deeper offshore waters for up to four weeks before rejoining their counterparts in their general movements north and south,” she said.

"The other important finding is there is no such thing as a residential shark.

"Most individuals appear to hang around for a day or so but then they move on.”

Minister Blair said NSW is leading the world in the trials with scientific research never seen before.

"Drumlines are helping keep beaches safer by intercepting on the seaward side of the surf break while also providing vital insights for both our scientists and our beachgoers on shark movements and their behaviour,” he said.

"We will now work to analyse these results to inform how we may continue to use this technology across the state.”