Research into Great White Sharks in Bay of Plenty set to begin

1 September 2022

White Shark captured on baited underwater Video in Tauranga Harbour.

A new project bringing together local iwi, marine ecologists, fisheries scientists and shark experts will research Great White Sharks in the Tauranga Harbour and wider Bay of Plenty this summer.

The collaboration comes after a notable increase in the frequency of interactions between humans and Great White Sharks in the area over the last few years. With each new interaction, fear and anxiety has appeared to increase and there have been calls for something to be done to better understand the situation and manage the risks to humans entering the ocean.

Project lead and University of Waikato marine ecologist Phil Ross says the research team is currently working with hāpu from the northern harbour, Te Whanau a Tauwhao and Ngati Te Wai, to refine plans for the summer’s research activities and to develop longer term goals for the research.

“We plan to have the research up and running before summer arrives so we can begin the process of learning about the size and make-up of the white shark population in the Bay, and gaining a better understanding of the behaviours and movements of individual sharks in the area.

Phil Ross is heading a crack team of researchers looking at White Sharks in the Bay of Plenty

“We’re also working to create opportunities for the public and citizen scientists to be involved in this important work. We know there have been a lot of encounters between White Sharks and spearfishers, surfers and swimmers. We want to capture that information and use it to better understand these awesome creatures.”

The research aims to understand the observed changes in White Shark abundance and behaviour, and inform any future White Shark management in the Bay of Plenty.

Reon Tuanau, from Otawhiwhi marae says he is grateful to be part of a project that will combine science with Māori tikanga.

“We are very keen to learn more about the increased presence and activity of the Great White Shark in our moana. We have a long standing relationship with the team of experts that has been brought together to partner with our Hapū in gaining a greater understanding of the changes that are occurring in the moana.”

The project includes input from:

  • Hapū (Te Whanau a Tauwhao and Ngati Te Wai) from the northern Tauranga Harbour (where most of the White Shark activity has been) represented by Reon Tuanau (Te Whānau a Tauwhao ki Otawhiwhi Marae Chairperson),
  • Scientists/researchers from 
    • The University of Waikato (Phil Ross, Melissa Kellett, Chris Battershill)
    • Manaaki Te Awanui (Caine Taiapa)
    • Department of Conservation (Clinton Duffy)
    • Conservation International (Mark Erdmann)
    • NIWA (Darren Parsons)
    • New Zealand's Great White Shark Research Project (Kina Scollay).

This research aligns with the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

Life Below Water

Latest stories

Related stories

Research leader and Antarctica expert to join Waikato as Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research

The University of Waikato has announced the appointment of Professor Gary Wilson to the role…

University of Waikato researchers receive record-level Marsden funding to explore bold ideas for the future

The University of Waikato is celebrating its most successful Marsden funding round yet.

Dr Rebecca Lawton Rutherford Discovery Fellow

Prestigious Rutherford Discovery Fellowship awarded to Dr Rebecca Lawton for marine kelp research

Dr Rebecca Lawton, Senior Lecturer in Marine Science and Aquaculture at the University of Waikato…

Raukokore Marine Research

Waikato supports Raukōkore Marine Research Centre opening

The Raukōkore Marine Research Centre has officially opened, providing a crucial research base for the…

Dr Jason Mika

Significant funding boost for University of Waikato research

The University of Waikato has achieved significant results in the latest funding round from the…

Dr Haki Tuaupiki and Associate Professor Maui Hudson

Waikato researchers tapped for US$30m Centre for braiding Indigenous knowledge and science

Two University of Waikato researchers have been shoulder-tapped as investigators within the newly launched NSF…

IDI Lab sign

Newly refurbished Waikato IDI Lab a catalyst for fostering academic-industry collaboration

The University of Waikato re-opened its newly refurbished Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) Lab; a catalyst…

3MT group photo 2023

Captive kiwi management researcher takes out tight competition

Te Aka Mātuatua School of Science animal behaviour researcher Rebecca Connor won the University's 3…

Professor Chris Battershill

Renowned scientist honoured for dedication to marine conservation

World-renowned marine scientist Professor Chris Battershill has been honoured for his significant contributions to marine…

Professor Holly Thorpe

Reimagining fields of play to grow the future of women in sport through world-class research

Waikato hosts global symposium to tackle issues from building gender-inclusive sporting environments to menstrual health…

Medical School Announcement

University of Waikato welcomes third medical school announcement

The University of Waikato welcomes the announcement by the National Party that if the Party…

Copyright Todd M. Henry 2020a

Kava based therapy for psychological trauma reaches clinical trial milestone

Waikato Pacific health researcher Dr Apo Aporosa has been awarded a Health Research Council grant…