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Diving Into The Secret Lives Of Sharks

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Diving into the secret lives of sharks


flinders university sharks
Image courtesy of Flinders University

The ‘secret lives’ of South Australia’s white sharks is set to be revealed by a new research project led by one of Australia’s prominent shark researchers, Flinders University’s Dr Charlie Huveneers.

The leader of the Southern Shark Ecology Group, Dr Huveneers is specifically looking at white shark predatory strategies and whether shark cage-diving affects the behaviour of sharks at South Australia’s Neptune Islands, the only location where white shark cage-diving takes place in Australia.

He will use novel state-of-the-art ‘activity packages’ to record up to seven days of the behaviour of free-swimming sharks. The packages have the ability to record swim speed, depth, and acceleration (such as during bursts of speed). These are recorded at an extremely high frequency, with about 30 observations recorded every second, leading to over 2 million records in 24 hours.

The activity packages, which are painlessly attached to the shark’s dorsal fin, detach themselves after a few days, minimising their impact on the animals.

Dr Huveneers is asking the public to help the project achieve its full potential by contributing to the research effort through crowdfunding. Rewards for support on the Pozible crowdfunding site include videos and A3-size poster prints of sharks, with one supporter getting the opportunity to join Dr Huveneers for a three-day trip to the Neptune Islands, where they can see his research first-hand – and get up close and personal with some of South Australia’s white sharks (also known as great white sharks).

This is possible thanks to the support of shark cage-diving operators who facilitate Dr Huveneers’ research by allowing him to travel with them to the Neptune Islands.

“Recent research has shown that the residency and fine-scale swimming behaviour of white shark can be affected by cage-diving tourism,” Dr Huveneers says.

“This new research project is an incredibly unusual opportunity to discover if those changes are positive, neutral, or negative at an individual or population level for sharks.

“We will record the activity of white sharks and determine their predatory/feeding strategy at the Neptune Islands, compare the activity of white sharks when cage-diving operators are present and absent, and assess any changes observed.

“Our activity package includes a video camera that will film similar videos to those created by world class media organisations like National Geographic.

“This will allow us to record the activity and movement of the sharks in relation to their behaviour as shown by the footage taken from the shark’s perspective.

“Thanks to this equipment, we will better understand the predatory behaviour of white sharks and how they hunt seals or fish while at the Neptune Islands, and how the shark activity relates to the cage-diving industry” Dr Huveneers says.

To learn more or support ‘The Secret Lives of Sharks’ project, click here. For more information about Flinders University crowdfunded research, click here.

About Flinders University

Flinders University, located in Adelaide, Australia offers a learning environment that is innovative, supportive and provides a global perspective. International students make up 13% of our on campus population of over 19,000 students. University reputations are made on the quality of teaching staff. In 2008, two of our staff became the first and only overseas recipients of a Senior Fellowship from the UK’s Higher Education Academy. In 2004 and 2006, we were awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Australian University Teacher of the Year. Flinders is located in Adelaide, a city of one million people, and the campus has spectacular, panoramic views across the city and to the ocean.


Award Title:Bachelor of Clinical Sciences / Doctor of Medicine
Length of Program:2 years followed by 4 year Doctor of Medicine
Prerequisites:see below
Eligibility:Those with tertiary study (at time of application) are not eligible for the Bachelor of Clinical Sciences
Interview:if meet requirements will be invited to interview
Applications Open:February
Application Dates:30 June 2016 Australia time
Seats Available:Approx 30 international places
Annual Tuition Fees:Contact KOM Consultants for latest tuition fees 1-877-318-8203
Faculty:Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Our International Student Services Unit at Flinders University offers many services from study to social, including:

  • Airport pickup and welcome at no cost
  • Help with transport when you are looking to secure permanent off-campus accommodation
  • A general orientation program for new students
  • Referral to services on the campus and in the community
  • Enrolment assistance and much more.

Research Areas

Our strategic investment in projects reflects our university’s key research capabilities and opportunities. Over 90% of our research-active staff focus on areas such as health related fields, the environment, education, culture, the Asia Pacific Region, new science and the social sciences.

Flinders University Bachelor of Clinical Sciences/Doctor of Medicine

This pathway for international students to the Bachelor of Clinical Sciences/Doctor of Medicine is being introduced in 2014 for 2015 commencement.

The Bachelor of Clinical Sciences/Doctor of Medicine is only available to school leavers. Applicants must have completed year 12 (or equivalent) and must not have a record of study at higher education level.

Successful applicants to the Bachelor of Clinical Sciences/Doctor of Medicine will be guaranteed Flinders University housing on site at the Flinders campus.

Medicine at Flinders University

The Flinders Medical School was the first in Australia to develop a 4 year graduate entry medical program in 1996 as an alternative to traditional 5-6 year MBBS courses for school leavers. This was an opportunity to rethink curriculum design and the way in which medical students are selected. Now the majority of Medical School places in Australia are graduate-entry, and Flinders University graduate entry medical school has been renamed a Doctor of Medicine (MD). Flinders University has also subsequently reintroduced an undergraduate pathway for a small number of the best performing secondary school leavers through its double degree, the Bachelor of Clinical Sciences / Doctor of Medicine.

“Tradition” at Flinders University Medical School involves building on the strengths of our widely-adopted curriculum via continued review and innovation to create or capture the best new ideas in medical education.