NSW tagged as a world leader in shark program

The NSW Government’s shark tagging program is estimated to be the largest in the world.

Tracking sharks is helping NSW DPI scientists to determine their movement patterns and increase our knowledge of shark behaviour.

Research shows that some white sharks travel tens of thousands of kilometres, some moving across the Bight to Western Australia, others to Tasmania and New Zealand, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea. Bull and tiger sharks also undertake long distance movements, often from tropical waters of New Caledonia, far north Queensland to NSW and back again.

Check out this video which shows the movements of some sharks that were tagged in NSW during the 2015-20 Shark Management Strategy SMART drumline trials.

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The Department of Primary Industries’ shark tagging project is mainly carried out by its contractors using SMART drumlines, as well as by the shark meshing contractors and targeted tagging trips by DPI scientists.

DPI scientists fit externally fin-mounted satellite tags and surgically inserted acoustic tags to white and tiger sharks, and externally fitted satellite tags at the base of the dorsal and internal acoustic tags to bull sharks. This enables scientists to register the natural movements of the sharks to determine the environmental and biological factors affecting their distribution in coastal and international waters.

Sharks tagged by DPI SMART drumline contractors are fitted with external acoustic and identification tags. All acoustically tagged sharks can then be detected on the network of 37 real-time tagged shark listening stations on the NSW coast that are located from Tweed Heads to Merimbula. When a shark swims within approx. 500 metres of one of the stations, an instant alert is sent to the SharkSmart app. Beachgoers can download the app and set it to receive tagged shark alerts at certain times and locations.

It is not unusual for some sharks to not 'ping' for some time on the tagged shark listening station network, noting the stations are located approximately 500m from shore. Some sharks travel hundreds of kilometres, including well beyond NSW waters, before we receive a ‘ping’ on one of our 37 stations.

Explore the Shark Map below for more information on recent SMART drumlines alerts, tagged shark detections, shark surveillance drone patrols and more.