Seasonal variability of bull and tiger shark presence on the west coast of Reunion Island, western Indian Ocean
A fisheries-independent survey using longlines and drumlines, and an acoustic telemetry study, revealed that bull sharks Carcharhinus leucas and tiger sharks Galeocerdo cuvier occur throughout the year off the west coast of Reunion Island. The research, which commenced in 2011, was conducted in response to an increase in the rate of shark attacks. Juvenile, subadult and young adult tiger sharks of 111–390 cm total length (TL) were caught in all months except July; the sex ratio was 1:1 (M:F; n = 61). All bull sharks taken, except one (183 cm TL), were mature (205–329 cm TL), with a sex ratio of 0.7:1 (M:F; n = 54), and catches occurred throughout the year except in May and August, with the highest CPUE in September. Presence/absence of a total of 46 tagged tiger sharks and 36 tagged bull sharks was monitored by means of 42 acoustic receivers distributed along the west coast of the island. Tagged tiger sharks were detected in all months, with seasonal variation between sexes. Detections of males remained low throughout the year but with a peak in winter, whereas detections of females were low in May and August only and peaked in summer. Tagged bull sharks of both sexes were more abundant in winter than in summer, with females present year round. The reasons for the apparent differences in seasonality found in longline and drumline catches compared to acoustic monitoring are discussed.
Keywords: acoustic telemetry, CPUE, shark attack, total length