Use of stereo baited remote underwater video systems to estimate the presence and size of white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias)

Stereo baited remote underwater video systems (stereo-BRUVs) are commonly used to assess fish assemblages and, more recently, to record the localised abundance and size of sharks. The present study investigated the occurrence and size of white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) in the near-shore environment off Bennett’s Beach, part of a known nursery area for the species in central New South Wales, Australia. Six stereo-BRUV units were deployed approximately fortnightly between August and December 2015 for periods of 5 h in depths of 7–14 m. Stereo-BRUVs successfully recorded 34 separate sightings of 22 individual white sharks. The highest number of individuals detected during a single day survey was eight. All C. carcharias observed on stereo-BRUVs were juveniles ranging in size from 1.50 to 2.46-m total length (mean ± s.e., 1.91 ± 0.05 m; n = 22). The time to first appearance ranged from 15 to 299 min (mean ± s.e., 148 ± 15 min). This study demonstrates that the use of stereo-BRUVs is a viable, non-destructive method to obtain estimates of the size and presence of white sharks, and may be useful in estimating relative abundance in near-shore environments where white sharks are known to frequent.

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