As part of our scientific research program the Micronesian Shark Foundation is collecting shark count data. This data is collected by dive operators in Palau and the program is now extending to other islands in Micronesia.
The data we collect at "special sites" includes information on the numbers of sharks sighted and their behavior patterns, broken down by species, gender and size. It also identifies other factors such as water temperature, visibility and number of divers underwater.
The information provided allows our scientific researchers an insight to specific shark behavior, for example the migratory patterns of Grey Reef Sharks in Palau and the best months to tag sharks. It also allows to identify irregularities in numbers and behavior related to weather and other natural phenomena.
As example, we observed that Grey Reef Sharks in Palau were changing their mating behavior, as we believe, based on water temperature and eventually seismic activities. While Grey Reef Sharks are normally mating during February and March. In 2012 we observed female grey reef sharks with fresh mating scars in August, showing that the sharks were mating in the month of August, changing their mating pattern, an unusual find. When we analyzed our data, we noticed that the water temperatures during February-April were below the normal. Also quite a few underwater seismic activities were occurring in our region during this time.
While the link between these factors and the shark mating season is not yet clear, it is through such data collection and analysis that we hope to come to a better understanding of these beautiful creatures. Our goal is to have as much data collected all over Micronesia to assist with our scientific research.
The Micronesian Shark Foundation is cooperating with dive shops all over Palau to collect shark data through it's shark count form, designed by Micronesian Shark Foundation founder Tova Harel Bornovsky, containing information on dive site, water conditions, kind of shark, site population pattern, gender and seasonality. Data sheets are compiled and processed by Dr. Mark Meekan.