24 February 2010

Aquarium successfully releases sharks

Two Oceans Aquarium

The Two Oceans Aquarium successfully released two more ragged-tooth sharks today as part of its ongoing shark conservation efforts. The sharks, Mandy and Noodle, were released off Gordon’s Bay with support from Garmin Distribution Africa (Pty) Ltd, Yamaha Distributors and Gemini Marine. The weather conditions were perfect for the release, and once in the water, the sharks wasted no time in swimming off into the blue depths.

Unlike previous releases, Mandy and Noodle were released in False Bay and not in Struisbaai. Ragged-tooth sharks naturally occur in False Bay and east to KwaZulu-Natal and Mozambique. The decision was taken to launch from Gordon’s Bay harbour and to release in False Bay in order to reduce the travelling time associated with the release.

Previous releases took place in March, but his year the release was planned a month earlier, when ragged-tooth sharks still frequent False Bay. This fact was confirmed when a large female ragged-tooth shark was caught in a national angling competition last Friday near Macassar. As demonstrated by the other sharks released from the Aquarium, it is expected that Mandy and Noodle will start travelling up the coast towards KwaZulu-Natal as part of what is believed to be an annual migration.

Before their release both sharks were weighed, measured and tagged with spaghetti (standard) tags. Spaghetti tags carry a tag number and an address. Should fishermen catch one of these sharks, they are encouraged to record the location and date on which they caught the shark, its tag number and the length of the shark (if possible). This information should then be sent to the address on the tag.

Garmin Distribution Africa (Pty) Ltd, Yamaha Distributors and Gemini Marine offered to support the release effort by sponsoring a Gemini 6.5m Waverider RIB equipped with Garmin marine electronics and a Yamaha 150HP outboard engine.

“We support marine conservation and are proud to be associated with the Aquarium’s shark conservation efforts,“ said Mike Clarke, head of Garmin’s Marine Division. The Aquarium’s own Gemini WR 730 has been in operation for 15 years. Garmin is the world’s largest supplier of GPS systems with more than 35-million units supplied to the aviation, automotive, mobile, marine, fitness and outdoor markets. In 2009 Garmin Distribution Africa (Pty) Ltd was awarded Superbrands status which acknowledges South African businesses for their market dominance and share, brand esteem and longevity, brand quality and promise, customer loyalty and overall market acceptance.

Noodle was introduced into the I&J Predator Exhibit in April 2008 after being caught by Trail Witthun in Struisbaai. Mandy was caught by the Aquarium’s Operations Manager, Tinus Beukes on 18 February 2009 in Hamburg (60km south of East London).

Four of the Aquarium’s other ragged-tooth sharks, Maxine, Val, Dee and Elle, were tagged and released previously as part of the Save Our Seas Foundation’s Maxine, Science, Education and Awareness (M-Sea) programme, an AfriOceans Conservation Alliance initiative undertaken in collaboration with the Two Oceans Aquarium.

For more information on the tagging and release of the other sharks, log onto http://www.aquarium.co.za/ or http://www.aoca.org.za/.

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