SER seminar series 


Dr Michelle Heupel presents ‘Follow the dancing dots: using acoustic monitoring to study shark behaviour’, on Wednesday 17 October from 12pm to 1pm.

Historically, fish movements have been tracked by attaching a transmitter to an animal and following it around for as long as possible. Now, new technology is letting researchers ‘follow’ fish 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

It’s like watching a video rather than looking at a snapshot.

The new technology comes in the form of underwater listening stations, or acoustic receivers, which detect signals from acoustic transmitters attached to sharks. This approach allows scientists to see where individuals are moving, how long they remain within specific areas and how they interact with one another in a study site without having to be there to watch them.

Years of monitoring shark movements via acoustic receivers along the Gulf of Mexico coast of Florida have provided insight into what sharks are doing in nursery habitats and what factors affect their movements.

Such long-term data are helping scientists to better understand the conditions sharks may prefer to live in and what conditions they choose to avoid.

Dr Michelle Heupel received her Bachelors degree from Colorado State University prior to conducting her PhD research at the University of Queensland.

Her PhD focused on the ecology and life history of the epaulette shark and other reef sharks on Heron Island. After completing her PhD, Michelle was offered a post doctorate at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida to study movement patterns and behaviour of coastal sharks.

The postdoctoral position evolved into positions as a staff scientist and manager of the Elasmobranch Behvaioural Ecology Program. After almost nine years of studying sharks in Florida she has recently returned to Australia and is now an adjunct principal research fellow in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at James Cook University.

Find more about past and present SER seminars from the school website.

This seminar takes place in room 1, building 22 (22.01), Casuarina Campus, Charles Darwin University.