A Rapid Assessment Technique to Assist Management of the White Shark (Carcharodon Carcharias) Cage Dive Industry, South Australia

Russell Bradforda, *, Rachel Robbinsb
a CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship, Marine and Atmospheric Research. GPO Box 1538, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 7001
b Fox Shark Research Foundation. 73 Ninth Avenue, Joslin, South Australia, Australia 5070

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© 2013 Bradford and Robbins.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship, Marine and Atmospheric Research. GPO Box 1538, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 7001; Tel: (+61 3) 6232 5077; Fax: (+61 3) 6232 5000; E-mail:


Port Lincoln, South Australia is the departure port for the only white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, cage dive industry in Australia. Established in the early 1960’s as a niche tourism venture, the industry has recently undergone a rapid expansion to accommodate greater passenger numbers, more tourism operators, and additional infrastructure aimed at capturing a greater proportion of the tourist dollar. However, to date, there has been no assessment of growth in the industry. We have used the operator logbook system, introduced in 2000, as the basis for a rapid assessment of the maturity as well as a conservative estimate of the economic value of the industry, with a focus on 2011. From the logbook system the number of days on-site has increased from an average of 67 days per year prior to 2007 to 287 days on-site in 2011. In 2011 the industry accommodated approximately 5200 passengers with a direct domestic expenditure estimated to be in excess of 6 million AUD. Changes in shark behaviour have been observed following the increase in days on-site. The white shark cage dive industry has reached a stage in its development where increased management is required in order to ensure a viable industry into the future. The rapid assessment technique described herein will allow managers to track changes in cage dive participation rates and quickly respond to changes in the industry.

Keywords: Cage dive, Carcharodon carcharias, economic assessment, management, white shark.