Ocean modelling to reveal where sharks swim in Cardigan Bay
Scientists at Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences creating new oceanographic models for Project SIARC, an exciting initiative which offers communities the chance to get involved in safeguarding some of the rarest marine species in Wales such as angelshark, tope, common stingray and spurdog.
The University’s contribution to the project follows on from Dr Sophie Ward’s and Dr Peter Robins’ involvement in the Angel Shark Project: Wales (https://angelsharknetwork.com/wales/), for which they conducted oceanographic modelling of Cardigan Bay, Wales.
For Project SIARC, Dr Sophie Ward and Dr Peter Robins will be developing high-resolution ocean models of two key Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) in Wales: ‘Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau’ and ‘Carmarthen Bay and Estuaries’.
This work is designed around understanding how water currents flow through the region. This will help interpret the results of the environmental-DNA (eDNA) surveys within the bays.
Over a one-year period, water samples will be taken along the coast and sampled for shark (elasmobranch) species eDNA. eDNA are microscopic samples of DNA which are left in the natural environment and can reveal what has been in the area.
By simulating tide and wind-driven flows of the region, the Ocean Sciences team will help other partners, including the Zoological Society of London or ZSL, who lead the project, consider where elasmobranch eDNA may have originated from, ultimately establishing the seasonal and spatial patterns of shark presence within the Welsh SACs.
Dr Sophie Ward, a Research Fellow at the School of Ocean Sciences said:
“This is an exciting project and an excellent application of our oceanographic modelling capabilities at the School of Ocean Sciences. It’s a privilege to be involved in such a collaborative conservation effort, and so close to home too.”
Dr Peter Robins, Senior Lecturer in Physical Oceanography, said :
“We’re finding that the spatial footprint of eDNA along Wales’ rugged and exposed coast can be far-reaching and variable, and that’s exciting. We hope to establish a coupled observational-modelling approach that is transferable across other dispersal studies.”
Publication date: 28 February 2022