It has been three months but Tina the Tiger has decided to leave Grand Cayman and go on tour.
The tiger shark had a location tracking satellite tag attached to her, which has been giving updates on her movements regularly.
Tina was tagged as part of a collaborative project between the Department of Environment, Marine Conservation International, the Guy Harvey Research Institute and the Save Our Seas Foundation.
The project is undertaking an extensive survey of the sharks around the Cayman Islands to understand what types of sharks, whales and dolphins are in Cayman waters and what their needs are.
A number of sharks have now been tagged, including blacktip reef, Caribbean reef, nurse, lemon and tiger sharks on Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac.
With less than 10 per cent of the global shark population left, this survey is about better understanding the Cayman Islands’ marine biodiversity, how local sharks are faring and what pressures they face.
Tiger sharks are a key part of the ecological web and their presence promotes a healthy food chain.
As Tim Austin, deputy director of the DoE, points out: “This translates to a balance of fish and other marine organisms, including fish of importance to fishermen.”
Tina the tiger shark swam around Grand Cayman to the west and then headed off south.
After a few days, she then headed over toward the Sister Isles before powering up to Cuba, swimming at a steady four miles per hour.
Mr. Harvey noted that there are a number of tiger sharks tagged through the Research Institute off Bermuda that have migrated south before heading back up to Bermuda, and wondered if Tina would eventually head to this hotspot.
“I am thrilled to see Tina’s progress and wonder what triggered her departure from Grand Cayman,” said project leader Mauvis Gore.
By contrast, Luiza, a second tiger shark also tagged last December, has remained close to Grand Cayman.
Ms Gore is part of an international team that leads the project funded by the UK’s Overseas Territory Environment Programme and the Save Our Seas Foundation.
The project works with fishermen and divers whose expertise and observations are important to the project.
Any sightings of sharks, whales or dolphins can be reported to the DoE at [email protected] or on 949-8469.