Population analysis of Carcharodon carcharias in localized areas surrounding South Africa using semi-automated dorsal fin identification
sharks, photo identification, conservation, fisheries management, population
The great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) is a marine apex predator with a global distribution. In recent years, the number of white sharks has drastically declined as a consequence of anthropogenic activities such as illegal/targeted fishing, bycatch, and habitat disruption. Until recently, research on sharks has been lacking, resulting in an information gap on shark populations. This study aims to analyze the current population distribution of white sharks in the wild, to fill the research gap on white shark data, and to use this information to inform policies makers for improvements in white shark conservation measures. White shark population distribution between Gansbaai and Mossel Bay, South Africa, were estimated using semi-automated and manual dorsal fin identification techniques. Dorsal fin photos from Mossel Bay were organized into a both a coded database, and an edge pattern database, then matched to a pre-existing Gansbaai database to identify population dynamics between the two sites. The anticipated outcome of this study is an indication of the population dispersal along the South African coastline, to promote knowledge based improvement of existing marine conservation and fishing management strategies.
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