Shark Stories

Shark Travels More Than 4,000 Miles

The tiger shark Sereia.

A 10’4” (3.15 m) female Tiger shark named Sereia that was tagged off the African country of Mozambique in 2018 was detected this past April about 800 miles off the Indonesian coast. That’s a transoceanic journey of more than 4,000 miles.

Confirmed Record

The shark was tagged by collaborating scientists at Biopixel Oceans Foundation and the Oceanographic Research Institute. Sereia was detected via satellite and now has the longest confirmed migration for a tiger shark on record.

“We had no idea a shark from Mozambique would end up off the coast of Indonesia,” Dr. Ryan Daly of the Oceanographic Research Institute in Durban, South Africa, said in a statement. Dr. Daly is also a research associate at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity. “This is incredibly important because it confirms that tiger sharks are roaming throughout the Indian Ocean and we need to take this into account when thinking about improving conservation for them in the region,” he said.

This image from the OCEARCH website shows Sereia’s latest satellite ping in July.

Important Work

Sereia is one of 21 sharks tagged by the joint effort between the Biopixel foundation and Oceanographic Institute in Mozambique as part of a project to establish a baseline understanding of tiger shark movements and habitat use in the West Indian Ocean. Prior to the project little was known about the residency patterns and migration dynamics of tiger sharks in the region. The tags for Sereia and others were deployed in the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve near South Africa.

Sereia’s journey also sheds light on another question regarding the range that tiger sharks can cover. Prior to her journey, most of the other sharks tagged in the study remained close to the African coast, with a couple venturing to Madagascar.

Tiger sharks have distinctive stripe-like marks that make them readily identifiable.

“This shark moving across the Indian Ocean puts the question of connectivity into a much larger scale, especially if she does make it all the way to Indonesia or Australia,” said Biopixel foundation and James Cook University Researcher Adam Barnett, who was also OCEARCH’s lead scientist during its Eastern Australia Expedition. “An interesting aspect of this large-scale movement is understanding not just where this shark is moving to, but why.”

The research project received funding from Save Our Seas Foundation in addition to National Geographic and the Guy Harvey Institute. The data is also available on the OCEARCH tracker.