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September 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 31, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Why You Can Dive with 700 Sharks in Fakarava

from the September, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Those of you who have ridden the current into the lagoon of Fakarava in the Tua Motus of French Polynesia will have marveled at the huge number of gray reef sharks that aggregate there -- up to 700 at one time. But, where are there enough prey fish to feed so many?

Turns out, they survive year-long by feasting every winter on the huge number of grouper that swim into the channel to spawn.

A study published in the journal Current Biology says it is an example of an 'inverted trophic food pyramid,' with the average biomass skewed towards predators rather than prey. This seasonal meal delivery of spawning groupers into the southern pass sustains the extraordinary concentration of gray reef sharks, the highest density of the species ever recorded....

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