Using an unbaited stationary video system to investigate the behaviour and interactions of bull sharks Carcharhinus leucas under an aquaculture farm
Bull sharks Carcharhinus leucas are common along the coast of Reunion Island (South-West Indian Ocean) and were suspected to aggregate in the vicinity of an aquaculture farm in Saint-Paul Bay on the west coast. In order to understand the behaviour and interaction of bull sharks near aquaculture cages at Saint-Paul Bay, we deployed an experimental unbaited stationary video camera. From 175 hours of recording during daylight hours from March to April 2012, eight individual female bull sharks (seven adults and one immature) were identified based on their natural markings. These sharks were resighted between 3 and 45 times. Residency analysis revealed site attachment under the aquaculture cages for at least three individuals over the course of the study. Recorded behaviours included intraspecific social interactions such as synchronised swimming. Social interactions and relatively strong paired associations for two pairs of females suggest some level of sociality among bull sharks around Reunion Island. Overall, our results demonstrate the utility of unbaited video systems to monitor the behaviour of adult coastal sharks.
Keywords: intraspecific associations, site fidelity, social relationships, unbaited video camera