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Public Lectures on Sharks a Feature of Sea Week

8 March 2001

Public Lectures on Sharks a Feature of Sea Week in Northland

Love them or hate them - sharks are undoubtedly the object of fascination for many people and for Sea Week this year the Department of Conservation's Northland Conservancy is bringing up an expert to tell the public all about them.

Clinton Duffy, who is a marine ecologist currently based in Hamilton, will visit the region next week and give two public lectures on the ecology of these perfectly adapted but often maligned creatures of the ocean.

DoC spokeswoman Wanda Vivequin said Mr Duffy will be speaking at Mangonui Primary School on Tuesday 13th March starting at 6:15pm and in Whangarei at the Tikipunga High School auditorium on Thursday March 15th starting at 7pm.

Both public lectures are free and Ms Vivequin said anyone with an interest in sharks should pencil these dates into their diary.

Mr Duffy has a MSc in Zoology from the University of Canterbury and has been working for DoC since 1989. He has been based in Gisborne, Napier and Wanganui and is currently employed on a two year contract as a marine ecologist with the department’s Science & Research Unit.

Mr Duffy said he studies sharks in his "spare time," and is a member of the American Elasmobranch Society and in 1991 was asked to document shark attacks in this country.for the international shark attack file (housed at the Florida Museum of Natural History).

He is currently also working on a project looking at the distribution and biology of white sharks and basking sharks in this country, mako shark reproduction and growth as well as a review of shark attacks.

Overseas experience has included working in the Timor Sea and the Bahamas.

"I have observed 15 different shark species while diving in New Zealand and overseas but have probably been observed by many many more," Mr Duffy said. There are more than 370 shark species in the world.

Mr Duffy said his public talks would not be focussing on shark attacks but look at what species we have in this country and some of the conservation issues related to them.

Sea Week is a national event and an annual one-week celebration of the biodiversity of our coastal and marine environment.

As an island nation hosting some 14.000 km of coastline the wise management and better understanding of these environments and its inhabitants are becoming increasingly important.

We all enjoy the coast in many different ways, therefor the responsibility for the protection, and where possible, the enhancement of these environments, its habitats and its inhabitants ultimately comes back to each one of us.

Seaweek offers the opportunity for all interested groups, organisations and individuals to organise and/or participate in Seaweek events. Educational material and promotion of events are on the Seaweek website;

Seaweek 2001 is celebrated between 9–18 March. It is supported by national promotion through newspaper publications, website, TV, radio, education magazines and poster distribution through Scholastic NZ.

It is coordinated by the Marine Education Society of Aotearoa, (MESA) which is a sub committee of the New Zealand Association for Environmental Education (NZAEE).

Both NZAEE and MESA are non profit organisations aiming to bring together those interested in the study, enjoyment and protection of our coastal and marine environment, its habitats and inhabitants.

For more information please contact Wanda Vivequin on (09) 430 2470

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