Shark trackers pinpoint where the tagged animals were last spotted, creating maps of their travel. Picture: Ocearch
Shark trackers pinpoint where the tagged animals were last spotted, creating maps of their travel. Picture: Ocearch

The mega sharks lurking off our coastline

WHILE some the shark-tooth predators lurking off the Mackay Whitsunday coastline travel great distances to Bali and New Caledonia, many of them like to stay closer to home.

Laura, Shayna, Jon, Alan and Gareth are ordinary names but they belong to some of the creatures being tracked in our ocean to collect more data.

A data-centric organisation built to help scientists collect previously unattainable data in the ocean has provided a rare insight into the movements of various sharks in our region.

The satellite tracking website provides data on 16 tagged sharks in waters along the Whitsunday, Mackay and Isaac coasts including each shark's size, species and movements - including just how close they have come to our beaches and recreational areas.

BioPixel Oceans Foundation tagged the sharks at Cid Harbour in December 2018 and June 2019, as part of a Queensland Government-commissioned research project following three horrific shark attacks in the area.

The largest shark tagged is Shayna, a 3.8m (12ft 8 inch) Tiger Shark weighing a whopping 992lbs - or about 450kg.

The most recent shark tagged is Sero, a 3.4m (11ft 2 inch) tiger shark weighing a whopping 631lbs - or about 286g.

 

Sero is a female tiger shark tagged in the Whitsunday but has been seen in waters on the other side of Australia and well into the Pacific Ocean. Picture: Ocearch
Sero is a female tiger shark tagged in the Whitsunday but has been seen in waters on the other side of Australia and well into the Pacific Ocean. Picture: Ocearch

SERO: Female adult tiger shark, 3.4m (11ft 2 inch) weighing 286kg (331lbs).

She first pinged in August last year near Bowen and most recently in October back near Bowen.

Inbetween she has been zooming around the Whitsundays near Hook Island, Hamilton Island and near St Helens Beach, Cape Hillsborough and past Mackay.

 

Sero is a female tiger shark tagged in the Whitsunday but has been seen in waters on the other side of Australia and well into the Pacific Ocean. Picture: Ocearch
Sero is a female tiger shark tagged in the Whitsunday but has been seen in waters on the other side of Australia and well into the Pacific Ocean. Picture: Ocearch

But she has also been on adventures far into the Pacific Ocean between New Caledonia and New Zealand and west between Indonesia and the Western Australia coastline.

 

Sero is a female tiger shark tagged in the Whitsunday but has been seen in waters on the other side of Australia and well into the Pacific Ocean. Picture: Ocearch
Sero is a female tiger shark tagged in the Whitsunday but has been seen in waters on the other side of Australia and well into the Pacific Ocean. Picture: Ocearch

SHAYNA - Female adult tiger shark, 3.8m (12ft 8 inch) weighing 450kg (992lbs). Tagged on June 10, 2019 at the Whitsunday Islands.

 

Tiger shark Shayna travels in the waters from Bowen down to Carmila. Picture: Ocearch
Tiger shark Shayna travels in the waters from Bowen down to Carmila. Picture: Ocearch

Shayna was first pinged on June 27 last year out near Jacqueline Reef.

She spent a fair bit of time out in this area, before moving way down to the Middle Island area in late July 2019.

Shayna has taken a few trips to the outer reefs off the Mackay and Isaac coasts over the past year.

Tiger shark Shayna travels in the waters from Bowen down to Carmila. Picture: Ocearch
Tiger shark Shayna travels in the waters from Bowen down to Carmila. Picture: Ocearch

But her latest pings indicate she likes to circle the islands off the coast of Mackay and the Whitsundays, last pinging in March between Edward Island and Callum Shoal on March 26 at 4.43pm.

 

LAURA - Female adult tiger shark, 2.8m (9ft 3 inch) weighing 151kg (335lbs).

Tagged on June 12, 2019 and first pinged on July 1 out near Hardy Reef.

Laura is also active and has covered almost 8000km since she was tagged.

 

Laura is a tiger shark who travels up and down the Mackay coastline. Picture: Ocearch
Laura is a tiger shark who travels up and down the Mackay coastline. Picture: Ocearch

She too likes to travel around the reefs off the Mackay Whitsunday coastline from Bowen to Sarina.

Laura zips between Hook Island, Hayman Island, Whitsunday Island, Hamilton Island and North Molle Island but she also likes to swim close to Conway Beach and the reefs near St Bees and Scawfell islands.

 

Laura is a tiger shark who travels up and down the Mackay coastline. Picture: Ocearch
Laura is a tiger shark who travels up and down the Mackay coastline. Picture: Ocearch

Most recently, she has pinged in the earlier months of the year near Whitehaven beach and the Dumbell and Border island reefs.

 

GRIZZ: Male adult tiger shark, 3.3m (10ft 10 inch), 298kg (565lbs)

 

Grizz is tiger shark found is sea north of Mackay. Picture: Ocearch
Grizz is tiger shark found is sea north of Mackay. Picture: Ocearch

Probably the most aptly-named shark in the group, he travelled 4881km in 103 days.

He was first tagged on January 7 this year and pinged for the first time between the Lindeman Group of islands and the Great Barrier Reef.

 

Grizz is tiger shark found is sea north of Mackay. Picture: Ocearch
Grizz is tiger shark found is sea north of Mackay. Picture: Ocearch

He likes to visit the smaller beaches between Mackay and the Whitsundays including Seaforth, St Helens and Conway beaches.

Grizz is also a fan of the Repulse Islands, just south of Cape Conway.

But he most recently pinged on July 18 at 6pm far out in the Coral Sea, two thirds of the way to New Caledonia.

 

Grizz is tiger shark found is sea north of Mackay. Picture: Ocearch
Grizz is tiger shark found is sea north of Mackay. Picture: Ocearch

BEVAN: Male adult bull shark, 2.8m (9ft 3 inch), 1722km in 103 days.

He first pinged off Whitsunday Island, between Sawmill Bay and Dugong Beach on June 27 last year and last pinged on May 23 this year just south of Hamilton Island.

 

Bull shark Bevan travels between the Mackay region and Cairns. Picture: Ocearch
Bull shark Bevan travels between the Mackay region and Cairns. Picture: Ocearch

But the majority of his time inbetween has been spent up north.

He favours the islands off Cape Melville National Park and those up toward Thursday Island at the tip of Queensland's coastline.

 

Bull shark Bevan travels between the Mackay region and Cairns. Picture: Ocearch
Bull shark Bevan travels between the Mackay region and Cairns. Picture: Ocearch

 

HOLLY: Female sub-adult tiger shark, 3m (9ft 10 inch) weighing 183kg (403lbs).

Holly has travelled 1638km over 103 days but being a young adult, she does not seem to have ventured too far.

Holly is a tiger shark who inhabits the Great Barrier reef area near the Whitsundays. Picture: Ocearch
Holly is a tiger shark who inhabits the Great Barrier reef area near the Whitsundays. Picture: Ocearch

The shark was first tagged on September 12 last year and first pinged on December 8 on Stanley Reef, north of the Whitsunday islands.

Darting through those reefs, she has been pinged near Net Reef, Kennedy Reef, Knuckle Reef and Eulalie Reef.

 

Holly is a tiger shark who inhabits the outer reef areas near the Whitsundays. Picture: Ocearch
Holly is a tiger shark who inhabits the outer reef areas near the Whitsundays. Picture: Ocearch

Holly was most recently recorded swimming on the reefs just north of Heart, Hardy and Block reefs on May 20.

 

ALARA: Female adult tiger shark, 3.3m (10ft 11 inch) weighing 268kg (590lbs).

 

Alara is a female tiger shark tagged off the Mackay and Whitsunday coasts. Picture: Ocearch
Alara is a female tiger shark tagged off the Mackay and Whitsunday coasts. Picture: Ocearch

She likes the same patch as Holly on the outer Great Barrier Reef but she ventured further down to the reefs east of Armila and Clairview in March, taking in Mullers Cay and Paul, Cockatoo and Storm reefs along the way.

 

Alara is a female tiger shark tagged off the Mackay and Whitsunday coasts. Picture: Ocearch
Alara is a female tiger shark tagged off the Mackay and Whitsunday coasts. Picture: Ocearch

Alara also like to weave through the Whitsundays, favouring the reefs around Hook and Hayman islands.

Alara is a female tiger shark tagged off the Mackay and Whitsunday coasts. Picture: Ocearch
Alara is a female tiger shark tagged off the Mackay and Whitsunday coasts. Picture: Ocearch

She last pinged on May 6 at 6.12am near Heart Reef, another reef she has regularly visited.

Alara has been very active, travelling 5918km in 103 days.

 

INGO: Male sub-adult tiger shark, 2.28m (7ft 6 inch) weighing 70kg (156lbs).

Tagged on December 16, 2018 in the Whitsunday islands.

Ingo appears to like to travel longer distances and remain in places longer, having been recorded swimming almost 2000km.

 

Ingo the tiger shark likes to stay in and around the Whitsunday island. Picture: Ocearch
Ingo the tiger shark likes to stay in and around the Whitsunday island. Picture: Ocearch

He was last pinged August 1 at 3.29am, swimming east of the Lindeman Group of islands.

Before that, he had travelled a large distance well off shore, travelling out around Callum Shoal and near Circular Quay Reef.

 

Ingo the tiger shark likes to stay in and around the Whitsunday island. Picture: Ocearch
Ingo the tiger shark likes to stay in and around the Whitsunday island. Picture: Ocearch

Ingo also likes hugging the coastline at times, and has been pinged around Hayman, Whitsunday and Hook Islands.

 

JON: Male sub-adult Tiger Shark, 2.6m (8ft 7 inch) weighing 114kg (253lbs).

Tagged on June 10, 2019 and last pinged on January 1, at 4.51am near Hook Island.

Jon has been very active, travelling 3978km in 103 days.

 

Tiger shark Jon likes to stay around the Whitsunday islands. Picture: Ocearch
Tiger shark Jon likes to stay around the Whitsunday islands. Picture: Ocearch

His travel log shows him criss-crossing around the Whitsunday and Mackay coast, even visiting beaches in the area.

He has been pinged close to Coral Beach, at a bay near Woodwark, around Hook Island, Hayman Island, Armit Island, Border Island and as far south as Credlin Reefs east of Mackay.

 

Tiger shark Jon likes to stay around the Whitsunday islands. Picture: Ocearch
Tiger shark Jon likes to stay around the Whitsunday islands. Picture: Ocearch

He rarely ventures out to the Great Barrier Reef, instead preferring to hang around the Whitsunday islands and the mainland beaches to the north and south.

 

 

HANNAH MARIE: Female adult tiger shark, 3.6m (11ft 10 inch), 349kg (771lbs)

First tagged on January 7 this year, she travelled more than 2000km between her first ping on March 1 and her last ping on May 15.

 

Tiger shark Hannah Marie like the outer reefs off the Whitsundays. Picture: Ocearch
Tiger shark Hannah Marie like the outer reefs off the Whitsundays. Picture: Ocearch

She started off in Block Reef before heading through Hardy Reef and up to Ellen Reef.

Hannah Marie ventured to reefs further northwest, north of Gumlu before last being seen closer to Magnetic Island off Townsville.

 

Tiger shark Hannah Marie like the outer reefs off the Whitsundays. Picture: Ocearch
Tiger shark Hannah Marie like the outer reefs off the Whitsundays. Picture: Ocearch

 

ZAKE: Male adult tiger shark, 3.5m (11ft 4 inch), 300kg (661lbs)

Tagged on December 11 last year, he first pinged just west of Heart Reef and north of Hayman Island three days later.

 

Tiger shark Zake has been seen most frequently around the Whitsundays but also swims to the outer reefs a lot. Picture: Ocearch
Tiger shark Zake has been seen most frequently around the Whitsundays but also swims to the outer reefs a lot. Picture: Ocearch

He swam 3788km in the three months to his last ping between Dingo and Tiger Reefs on March 13.

He was not afraid to venture out past the Great Barrier Reef into the Coral Sea but he spent most of his time around the reef and the Whitsunday islands.

 

Tiger shark Zake has been seen most frequently around the Whitsundays but also swims to the outer reefs a lot. Picture: Ocearch
Tiger shark Zake has been seen most frequently around the Whitsundays but also swims to the outer reefs a lot. Picture: Ocearch

He pinged three times at Heart Reef on January 10 after spending some time around Conway National Park, Long Island and Shute Harbour over the week prior.

He favoured Hook Island during February

 

ALAN JOYCE: Male adult Tiger Shark, 3.3m (11ft) weighing 270kg (597lbs).

Tagged on June 11, 2019 in the Whitsunday Islands, he first pinged on July 6, 2019 at 12.30pm swimming near Sawmill Bay.

 

Alan Joyce is a tiger shark tagged near the Whitsunday islands. Picture: Ocearch
Alan Joyce is a tiger shark tagged near the Whitsunday islands. Picture: Ocearch

Alan's tracker has not picked up much activity since he was tagged but he has pinged near Shute Harbour on January 12 this year and the next day near Funnel Bay.

He was recorded swimming on January 18 this year between the islands and the Great Barrier Reef.

 

Alan Joyce is a tiger shark tagged near the Whitsunday islands. Picture: Ocearch
Alan Joyce is a tiger shark tagged near the Whitsunday islands. Picture: Ocearch

GARETH: Male adult tiger shark, 3.14m (10ft 4 inch) weighing 219kg (485lbs).

Tagged on June 10, 2019 in the Whitsunday Islands.

 

Tiger shark Gareth has been tagged off the Mackay coast. Picture: Ocearch
Tiger shark Gareth has been tagged off the Mackay coast. Picture: Ocearch

 

Gareth, who was tagged around the same time as his tiger shark mate Alan, was first pinged on August 3.

Gareth's movements were only captured a few times.

He has been to the outer Great Barrier Reef and was last seen in 2019 in waters between Ball Bay/Cape Hillsborough and Ingot Islets on August 29 at 10.48pm.

 

Tiger shark Gareth has been tagged off the Mackay coast. Picture: Ocearch
Tiger shark Gareth has been tagged off the Mackay coast. Picture: Ocearch

But then this year he was pinged east of Bundaberg in February and then south of Fiji on June 25.

He has recorded almost 7000km of travel.

 

BEC PIPER: Female sub-adult hammerhead shark, 2.3m (7ft 10 inch) weighing 63kg (141lbs). Tagged on December 15, 2018 in the Whitsunday islands.

 

Bec Piper is a hammerhead shark tagged in and around the Whitsunday island. Picture: Ocearch
Bec Piper is a hammerhead shark tagged in and around the Whitsunday island. Picture: Ocearch

Bec Piper appears to have lost her tag, having last been pinged east of Hideaway Bay on Anzac Day 2019 and not been seen since.

However she covered a lot of ground while her tag was still active, swimming dangerously close to Whitsunday coastlines.

 

Bec Piper is a hammerhead shark tagged in and around the Whitsunday island. Picture: Ocearch
Bec Piper is a hammerhead shark tagged in and around the Whitsunday island. Picture: Ocearch

She was pinged very close to beaches at North Molle Island, Hook Island, Whitsunday Island, Hayman Island and Mansell Island.

Bec Piper also swam close to beaches around Cid Harbour where three shark attacks occurred in a matter of months.

Bec Piper is a hammerhead shark tagged in and around the Whitsunday island. Picture: Ocearch
Bec Piper is a hammerhead shark tagged in and around the Whitsunday island. Picture: Ocearch

The farthest she travelled was out past Plaster Reef.

She also likes Heart and Hardy reefs.

 

NAIA: Female sub-adult tiger shark, 2.4m (7ft 11 inch) weighing 84kg (187lbs).

Tagged on December 18, 2018 in the Whitsunday Islands.

 

Naia is a female tiger shark busy in the northern Whitsunday waters. Picture: Ocearch
Naia is a female tiger shark busy in the northern Whitsunday waters. Picture: Ocearch

She travelled 4262km around the Whitsunday and Mackay area in 103 days.

She was first pinged on December 28 2018 and last pinged on August 21 this year - both east of Gloucester Island off Hideaway Bay.

 

Naia is a female tiger shark busy in the northern Whitsunday waters. Picture: Ocearch
Naia is a female tiger shark busy in the northern Whitsunday waters. Picture: Ocearch

Previously, she has been pinged close to the coastline in waters off Bowen beaches, Abbot Point, in the Elliot River and around much the Whitsunday islands.

She has also pinged on the other side of the Great Barrier Reef directly east of the Whitsundays and around the reefs north of the Whitsundays.

Naia is a female tiger shark busy in the northern Whitsunday waters. Picture: Ocearch
Naia is a female tiger shark busy in the northern Whitsunday waters. Picture: Ocearch

BELINDA: Female adult tiger shark, 3.7m (12ft, 2 inch), weighing 386kg (851lbs)

She's a big girl but her tracking device has recorded just 400km of her journey.

 

Belinda is a tiger shark tagged off the Whitsunday coast. Picture: Ocearch
Belinda is a tiger shark tagged off the Whitsunday coast. Picture: Ocearch

 

Belinda was first tagged on September 13 last year and first pinged on December 9 of that year just south of Heart and Block reefs off the Whitsunday islands.

She ventured around Hook and Hayman islands a few times that December and was last seen heading north past Gloucester Island.

Belinda is a tiger shark tagged off the Whitsunday coast. Picture: Ocearch
Belinda is a tiger shark tagged off the Whitsunday coast. Picture: Ocearch


She has not been spotted since with no further pings recorded outside that month.

All data was displayed on the website Ocearch.

The website says the organisation has 198 scientists, has been on 39 expeditions and tagged 416 animals.

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