Sharks are making waves in the news lately with many topics. There's the scare tourists received with the recent migration of thousands of sharks along South Florida's Atlantic coast. The reoccurring topic of the controversy surrounding shark-finning, which has surfaced on many news sites recently.
Then we have the scientific community who have begun to study the swim patterns of the Great White shark using GPS tracking tags. The research team, called Ocearch, have made it their mission to decipher the navigational patterns of sharks. To do so they put themselves in rather perilous situations. Humanely capturing a Great White is no easy task, and add in the small window of time (15 min.) they give themselves, you have a recipe for disaster. This group has defied the odds and have successfully tagged 40 specimens, most recently one affectionately nicknamed Mary Lee.
Mary Lee's movements will be monitored online, along with her counterparts, with the innovative Ocearch Global Shark Tracker. The tracking device that is inserted into the dorsal fin has a GPS receiver embedded into it. This receiver sends location data of the shark directly to the Shark Tracker website, which is then displayed as an identifying dot. These dots are also color-coded for time, an Orange dot means the ping (GPS signal) is less than 72 hours old. Green dots indicate a ping that is less than 30 days old, while Blue dots are for signals longer than 30 days old.
The current track data from Mary Lee shows a journey up and down the Eastern Seaboard. She has made some brief stops such as the one on 01/30/2013 off the coast of Long Island, NY which shocked more than a few New Yorkers. The benefits of this project are already being seen, as the general public can see for themselves that even though there are sharks in relatively close proximity they aren't there to attack.
We look forward to seeing updates of this study in the future, and perhaps using the information to help remove the stigma held by this amazing creature, the Great White shark.