[Coral-List] Shark Feeding Question

Delbeek, Charles CDelbeek at calacademy.org
Thu Feb 13 12:27:31 EST 2014

I would think it depends on the context under which the feeding is taking place. For example, feeding hotdogs or trout chow to reef fish would be different to feeding natural prey items to sharks. 

On Oahu, The Hanauma Bay marine preserve used to allow feeding of fish, eventually since most people were feeding bread they began to actively sell packets of pellet food for this purpose. As a result large more aggressive fishes began to displace the smaller, less aggressive ones. I think there was also an impact on algal growth in the inner part of the bay but I may be making that up. Someone more familiar with the history of this can correct me if I am wrong. Once the feeding was banned the fish assemblage eventually returned to a more "normal" balance of species.

J. Charles Delbeek, M.Sc.
Assistant Curator, Steinhart Aquarium
California Academy of Sciences

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-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Steve Mussman
Sent: Thursday, February 13, 2014 8:41 AM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] Shark Feeding Question

   It seems to me that there is a clear understanding that in general feeding
   animals in the wild is considered bad form.
   That said, why is it that shark feedings and the growing popularity of
   staged shark interactions seem to be viewed as (almost) being sanctioned by
   a number of papers that conclude that there is no evidence that provisioning
   has any measureable (detrimental) impacts on the sharks involved, adjacent
   communities and ecosystems?  In fact it is often suggested that long-term
   monitoring  of sharks and other marine life at provisioning sites will
   likely provide much needed temporal data that will benefit apex-predator
   conservation efforts and protected area management strategies.

   Are we therefore wrong to simply assume that in general feeding animals (and
   physically interacting in such ways) in the wild is to be discouraged? Are
   aquatic animal interactions somehow innately different from terrestrial
   encounters? Is it best to only make species-specific assumptions on the
   appropriateness  of such activities? For example, is food provisioning
   (following  accepted  protocols  in areas where it is allowed) somehow
   considered acceptable for sharks, but not for other marine animals?

   Finally, I have found a few papers on the impacts of provisioning on sharks,
   but  none on other aquatic species. Can anyone direct me to additional
   studies that could help shed some light on the broader issues involved?


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