On March 23rd 2017, at the PEPANZ conference in New Zealand (NZ), Ocean Science Consulting (OSC) Ltd. Managing Director, Dr Victoria Todd reported on the current status of research on interactions between sharks, submarine power cables, and industry. Dr Todd’s presentation lasted 16 minutes and is available from the 2017 PEPANZ Conference here.
Although OSC specialise in marine mammal science and research, Dr Todd provided an overview on the shark electrosensory system, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs) around bottom cables. In addition, Dr Todd reviewed research on sharks and their interaction with cables by making reference to a NZ lab study which focussed on carpet sharks (Cephaloscyllium isabellum) and their interaction with EMFs around Direct Current (DC) and Alternating Current (AC) power cables – the only viable lab study available to draw conclusions from (Orr 2016). A detailed overview of the current level of research and the concerns over responses of sharks to industry can be found in the OSC online encyclopaedia, here.
To conclude, Dr Todd highlighted the implications of scarce research on the effectiveness of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and mitigation measures to reduce industry impacts on sharks; however, while the literature on this topic may be limited, it does provide a foundation for further research to enhance our understanding of the interactions between elasmobranchs and submarine power cables.
Orr M.A. (2016) The potential impacts of submarine power cables on benthic elasmobranchs. In: Institute of Marine Science. University of Auckland, Auckland.