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BIOLOGIST RESEARCH

Sharks remain one of the least understood, yet fascinating, taxa in the animal kingdom. Over the past decades, I have dedicated my life to revealing the hidden lives of sharks through using innovative research techniques, sophisticated scientific equipment, duck-tape, cable ties, and lots of shark chum. 

Current Projects

Shark Scientist South Africa - photographic identification

Population studies

Non-invasive mark recapture techniques using photographic identification to gain deep insights into the population dynamics of South Africa’s shark species. 

Shark Scientist South Africa - shark ecotourism research

Shark Ecotourism

Shark ecotourism and diving remains a controversial activity. Understanding the ecological and safety impact of this activity is vital to ensure correct management of sharks

Shark Scientist South Africa - shark satellite telemetry

Animal-borne Telemetry

Telemetry is the field of tracking animal movement at a distance. My behavioural research on sharks is focused on acoustic and satellite telemetry

Shark Scientist South Africa - genetic research

Genetic Research

Genetic and stable isotope studies are used to reveal stock structures, feeding habitats, and the interconnectedness of stocks within a species. 

Shark Scientist South Africa - shark deterrents 1

Attack Deterrents

Non-invasive measures to protect humans from sharks can contribute to the conservation of sharks. My research involves testing of shark deterrents technologies on large, potentially dangerous, shark species

Shark Scientist South Africa - shark breaching predator prey games

Predator - prey dynamics

Evaluation of predator prey relationships between sharks and potential prey species. Determined via observational studies, stomach content analysis and stable isotope analysis.

My publications

  • Global spatial risk assessment of sharks under the footprint of fisheries. (Nature) Queiroz, Humphries, … Johnson …. Sims (2019) Read this publication

 

  • Cape fur seals adjust traversing behaviour with lunar conditions in the high white shark density waters of Mossel Bay, South Africa. Morse, Mole, Bester, Johnson, Scacco, Gannari (2019)

 

  • Performance and reliability of active acoustic biotelemetry to best track marine pelagic species in temperate coastal waters. Genneri, Johnson, Cowley (2018) Read publication online

 

  • Antibiotic sensitivity of bacterial flora isolated from the oral cavities of live white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) in South African waters. Jennari, Kock, Smale, Towner, Khan, Bester, Johnson, Fischer, Meÿer, Morse (2019) 

 

  • Spatial and seasonal patterns in sighting rate and life-history composition of the white shark Carcharodon carcharias at Mossel Bay, South Africa. Ryklief, Pistorius, Johnson (2014) – Download this publication

 

  • Fine scale movements and activity areas of white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) in Mossel Bay, South Africa. Jewell, Johnson, Gennari, Bester (2013) – Download this publication

 

  • Accuracy of Using Visual Identification of White Sharks to Estimate Residency Patterns. Delaney, Johnson, Bester, Gennari (2012) – Download this publication

 

  • Effects of Smart Position Only (SPOT) Tag Deployment on White Sharks Carcharodon carcharias in South Africa. Jewell, Wcisel, Gennari, Towner, Bester, Johnson, Singh (2011) – Download this publication

 

  • Distribution and abundance of humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, off the coast of Mozambique. Findlay, Meyer, Elwen, Kotze, Johnson, Truter, Uamusse, Sitoe, Wilke, Kerwath, Swanson, Staverees, Van Derwesthuizen (2011) – Download this publication

 

  • Impact of shark-feeding tourism on surrounding fish populations off Moorea Island (French Polynesia). Vignon, Sasal, Johnson, Galzin (2009)

 

  • Coastal swimming patterns of white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) at Mossel Bay, South Africa. Johnson, Bester, Dudley, Oosthuizen, Meÿer, Hancke, Gennari (2009) – Download this publication
  • Concordance of genetic and fin photo identification in the great white shark, (Carcharodon carcharias), of Mossel Bay, South Africa. Gubili, Johnson, Gennari, Oosthuizen, Kotze, Meÿer, Sims, Jones, Noble (2009) – Download this publication

 

  • Encounters between white sharks and Cape fur seals in a shallow channel. Johnson, Keswick, Bester, Oosthuizen (2008) – Download this publication

 

  • Seabird predation by white shark, Carcharodon carcharias and Cape fur seal, Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus at Dyer Island.  Johnson, R.L., Venter, A., Bester, M.N., & Oosthuizen, W.H. (2006) South African Journal of Wildlife Research 36(1): 23-32.

 

  • White shark abundance: not a causative factor in numbers of shark bite incidents. Kock, Johnson, Bester, Compagno, Cliff, Dudley, Gennari, Griffiths, Kotze, Laroche, Meyer, Oosthuizen, Swanson (2006) – Download this publication

 

  • Seabird predation by white shark, (Carcharodon carcharias), and Cape fur seal, (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus), at Dyer Island. Johnson, Venter, Bester, Oosthuizen (2006) – Download this publication

 

  • Is there a relationship between white shark presence and the management of city estuaries and river mouths? Oelofse, Kock, Johnson, Haskins (2006) – Download this publication

 

  • South Africa’s White Shark cage-diving industry – is their cause for concern? Johnson, Kock, Bester, Compagno, Dudley, Griffiths, Keswick, Kotze, Laroche, Meyër, Oosthuizen, Swanson, Jacobs (2006) – Download this publication

 

  • Transoceanic migration, long-distance return migration and local movement patterns in the great white shark. Bonfil, Meyer, Scholl, Johnson, O´Brian, Oosthuizen, Swanson, Kotze, Patterson (2005) – Download this publication

 

  • Habitat utilization of the white shark in South Africa, using acoustic telemetry. Johnson, Oosthuizen, Bester, Meyer, Swanson, Kotze (2004)

 

  • Behavioural ecology of the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) at Dyer Island, South Africa. Johnson (2003)

 

  • Rodent induced damage to a pine plantation: a southern African case study. Ferguson, Van Jaarsveld, Johnson, Bredenkamp, Foord, Britz (2003)

 

  • The effect of afforestation fragmentation on small mammal assemblages at Groenvaly grasslands. Johnson, Ferguson, Van Jaarsveld, Chimimba, Bronner (2002)

 

  •  Impact of Cage diving on the Ecology of Dyer Island. Johnson, R., Oosthuzien, W.H. and Bester, M. (1999) Proceedings of International association for Impact assessment (SA affiliate) 1999.

The Shark Research Unit

My official institutional affiliation is the Blue Wilderness Shark Research Unit. To learn more about the unit and our research, visit the units website

Research and Conservation Highlights

Shark net removals from Rocky Bay

Shark Research and conservation achivements - removal of shark nets

Our company, Blue Wilderness, led the successful campaign to remove the Natal Shark Board nets from Rocky Bay, South Africa. 

Population status of four species

Shark Research and conservation achivements - shark population status

At South Africa’s Aliwal Shoal, our team is maintaining scientifically valid population estimates of four shark species

Shark fisherman prosecution

Shark Research and conservation achivements - white shark proscution

State witness and scientific expert in the first prosecution of a fisherman illegally catching white sharks in South Africa. 

CITES Listing of the white shark

Shark Research and conservation achivements -cites

Worked on the  satellite tracking project that was the scientific cornerstone to motivate the listing of the white shark on CITE appendix 2  

Academic Publications

Shark Research and conservation achivements - scientific publications

Authored or co-authored over 30 academic publications including articles in both ‘Science’ and ‘Nature’, the worlds preeminent scientific journals 

Longest shark migration ever

Shark Research and conservation achivements - shark nicole

Part of the team that tracked the great white shark ‘Nicole’ over 8000km return migration from South Africa to Australia and back. 

Education through documentaries

Shark Attack Experiment live. For National Geographic Wild 2012

Featured or hosted over 20 shark documentaries advocating for, and educating, the public about the worlds sharks

OCEARCH Project Chief Scientist

Shark Research and conservation achivements - shark wranglers

Chief Scientist for the OCEARCH South African expedition with a budget of 5 million and involving over 40 researchers  

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