Tetiaroa Reef Shark Project

Update : 2024

The Tetiaroa Reef Shark Project reached a huge milestone in 2023 with its 10th year of operation (initiated in 2014)!

The year was also highly successful, with three major highlights. First, we completed two field seasons, during which we fully refurbished the receiver array and deployed 22 new tags across two species (Blacktip Reef Sharks and Sicklefin Lemon Sharks) and a wide range of sizes, from juveniles just weeks old (~ 50 cm) to near-adults approaching 2 m in length. This included 15 new state-of-the-art predation tags for small juvenile sharks which will tell us if/when these newborns are eaten by a larger shark. This information will be unprecedented, as predation rates on shark pups are largely unknown.

In 2023, Fulbright fellow, Aarthi Kannan, continued her work on site recording shark behavior in the lagoon with baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVs). Aarthi collected hundreds of hours of video featuring sharks and many other atoll denizens that will now be used to shed new light on animal behavior in the lagoon, including when and where sharks are most active and whether sharks elicit avoidance by other fishes.

Shark fishing

In most of the world's oceans, shark populations have already been modified by humans. As a result, it is difficult to study shark behavior and ecology under relatively pristine conditions. French Polynesia, on the other hand, stands as the world's largest shark sanctuary, and among the French Polynesians islands, Tetiaroa is especially conducive to shark research because it is pristine, accessible, and small enough to be studied as an entire ecosystem.