Breadcrumbs

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

University of Waikato hosts inaugural Donor Day in Tauranga

The University of Waikato Foundation – Te Pou Taunaki held its inaugural Donor Day at…

Waikato shines bright in a sea of stars at science awards

University of Waikato scientists and researchers shone brightly in a stellar showcase of science talent…

Seven scholarships announced on Kīngitanga Day support rangatahi and the environment

Seven University of Waikato undergraduate students have been awarded the Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu…

Tauranga research has potential to reduce carbon emissions on ‘million-tonne scale’

Grinding rock and spreading it onto farmland doesn’t seem like a way to fight carbon…

Massive funding boost for Waikato research

From incorporating mātauranga Māori into marine restoration to Xeno Nucleic Acids that could have impacts…

Study offers first comprehensive assessment of extreme heat risks across Aotearoa

A new University of Waikato-led study, published this week in Climatic Change, has provided a…

Do you believe in luck?

New research reveals culture plays a major part in whether people believe in luck and…

Fayaz Aziz / Reuters / Alamy Pakistan floods: what role did climate change play?

Pakistan is experiencing the most devastating and widespread floods in its history, with the country’s…

Tauranga campus celebrates University graduation

There were cheers and tears when 222 people graduated at the University of Waikato’s Tauranga…

Wānanga works to carve a pathway for Māori Artificial Intelligence

A hui that brought together Artificial Intelligence experts from all over around the motu has…

Making change by Counting Ourselves

The second Counting Ourselves survey goes live today, Thursday 1 September.

University’s decarbonisation plans get a boost

The University of Waikato is closer to its goal of being carbon neutral by 2030,…