Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) will help shark enthusiasts take their “Shark Week 2013” to the next level with an interactive website that tracks four shark species (mako, tiger, oceanic whitetip and sand tiger) around the world. Users can interface with the technology to see where and how far the sharks travel over time.
The NSU Guy Harvey Research Institute shark-tracking website can be accessed at: www.nova.edu/ocean/ghri/tracking/.
“This multi-species shark tracking site provides an eye-opening perspective on the secret pathways and enormous distances that some sharks can cover during their seasonal migrations,” said Mahmood Shivji, Ph.D., director of NSU’s Guy Harvey Research Institute and Save Our Seas Shark Research Center.
Eighteen sharks (makos and oceanic whitetips – see names below) are currently reporting their whereabouts in the open ocean almost daily, and their wanderings can be followed in near real time on the web site, revealing novel information about their movements.
"Understanding where these animals migrate to and when they do it is crucial to their conservation," says Guy Harvey, Ph.D. "The Guy Harvey Research Institute is a worldwide leader in shark tagging and research. Dr. Shivji and his GHRI team have been able to record some of the longest tracks in the modern history of shark research."
The longest recorded track is a Tiger Shark affectionately referred to as Harry Lindo. Harry was tagged in Bermuda in 2009 and tracked for more than 3 years, providing an unprecedented long-term and detailed view of its migrations. During that time, Harry covered a remarkable distance of over 27,000 miles.
The GHRI/NSU shark tagging program, which began in 2009, has now gone worldwide, and includes New Zealand and West Atlantic Mako sharks; Tiger sharks in Western Australia, Bermuda, Grand Bahama, Bimini Chub Cay, and Grand Cayman; Oceanic Whitetip sharks in the Bahamas and Caribbean; and Sandtiger sharks in the Atlantic Shark researchers at NSU have discovered interesting patterns while tracking the various species, including:
Tiger sharks tagged in Bermuda that were tracked for 2-3 years show a seasonal pattern that they repeat year to year. They move to Bahamian and Caribbean waters during the winter, and then move to open ocean in very deep waters northeast of Bermuda where they spend a couple of months each summer before returning to warmer locales for the following winter.
Pop-up tags allow researchers to look at swimming depth as well as location data. At least one Tiger shark and a Shortfin Mako shark were recorded swimming at depths of nearly 900 meters (nearly 3,000 feet).
Shortfin Mako sharks can reach speeds of approximately 60 miles per hour for short bursts. Long-term movements for this species are not well known, but current tracks on animals tagged by the GHRI team off Ocean City, Maryland, monitored one animal as it traveled nearly 2,000 miles in the first 42 days after it was tagged. A Mako named JoAnn (tagged off Isla Mujeres, Mexico) traveled approximately 3,200 miles in 91 days since she was tagged. And yet another Mako named Carol (tagged off New Zealand) travelled to Fiji and back, covering at least 10,000 miles over the course of just over 11 months.
SPOT Tags are mounted to the fin of the shark and have an antenna that extends upward. These tags have a saltwater switch/sensor that tells the tag when it is out of the water. When the tag breaks the surface of the water, it transmits its location to a satellite, allowing researchers to track the animal over the life of the tag’s battery (typically 10 to 30 months).
Pop-up tags are archival satellite tags that are typically inserted into the shark’s top surface by its dorsal fin and collect and store data within the tag. After a pre-determined amount of time, the tag releases from the shark, floats to the surface and transmits the stored data to a satellite from which scientists can determine the position of the shark, its depth and the temperature of water in prefers to spend its time in.
For information on NSU’s Oceanographic Center, visit: www.nova.edu/ocean
About Nova Southeastern University
Situated on 300 beautiful acres in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a dynamic fully accredited research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at all levels. NSU is a not-for-profit independent institution with 27,000 students. NSU awards associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, doctoral and first-professional degrees in a wide range of fields. NSU is classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and it’s one of only 37 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification. For more information on NSU, visit: www.nova.edu
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