By: Dr Ryan Daly
2021 has started with an exciting expansion of our underwater acoustic receiver array that listens for fish, sharks and rays fitted with acoustic tags. Eight new underwater receivers were deployed on the north and south coast to complement our existing array of 37 receivers already established in KZN. Additionally, with funding from Wild Oceans, ORI plans to deploy an additional 9 receivers this year to fill critical gaps in our array.
The provincewide receiver array compliments the nationwide Acoustic Tracking Array Platform by collecting and sharing movement data on 39 species (10 fish, 7 ray and 22 shark species), 56% of which are threatened with extinction. The expansion of these underwater receivers will allow us to collect more data on the migrations and habitat use of these species in order to identify critical areas for them and highlight potential cross border movements into Mozambique.
By the end of the year, ORI plans to maintain 55 receivers in KZN and the neighbouring Pondoland Marine Protected Area. This will be especially important for identifying critical habitat for many species and compliment the ongoing ORI tagging initiatives by providing long term (up to 10 years) movement data for fish fitted with acoustic tags. We also plan to deploy many more acoustic tags this year and collect and share data on the elusive movements of KZNs fish, shark and rays.