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Baited cameras trialled around Bay of Plenty to learn more about visiting sharks

Baited cameras are being used for the first time to survey shark populations in the Bay of Plenty.

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Baited cameras are being used for the first time to survey shark populations in the Bay of Plenty. Source: 1 NEWS

The information gathered will be used as part of a wider study to find out how many shark species frequent New Zealand waters.

Right now, shark populations are largely unknown, because scientists rely on sightings to establish their numbers.

“We are lacking scientific baseline terms of diversity, so how many species of sharks we have in the bay. BRUVS have been used to investigate sharks before, but in other areas of New Zealand,” says Mel Kellet from Waikato University.

BRUVS are Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems and are being used to capture jaw dropping encounters in Bay of Plenty waters.

“It was surprising, especially because we were not entirely sure whether BRUVS would work out here, usually the visibility is so low in temperament reefs and temperament waters that you can’t see anything especially in coastal sites,” explained scientist Daisy Church.

Once the bait is into the water it isn’t long until the sharks appear and while some sharks show no hesitation, others take a more cautious approach.

"So, looking forward into the future if we're to look at how these populations are responding to things like climate change. pollution, habitat degradation or on a more positive not like marine protected areas and other conservation practices we need to understand what's happening now so we can detect any changes in the future," says Ms Kellet.

Local iwi are also on board with the project.

"We need to find ways to bring together different knowledge systems to better understand manage and protect and sustain our world into the future," says Iwi representative Kura Paul-Burke.

There is a hope more can be learn while protecting these feared yet revered creatures.