Mote Marine Laboratory scientists have joined the latest OCEARCH expedition to study great white sharks off New York, with the hope of encountering juvenile sharks to better understand the lives of these important top predators.
In 2016, OCEARCH and a team of participating scientists tagged nine young-of-the-year white sharks (popularly known as great white sharks) during Expedition Montauk in 2016. During this year’s Expedition New York, Aug. 5-25, the team will work to expand their sample size to complete the North Atlantic White Shark Study, which began in 2012. The sample site for this year’s study will be just off of Long Island, New York, where the researchers have confirmed the first known nursery – and likely birthing site – for great white sharks in the Northwest Atlantic.
Dr. Robert Hueter, Senior Scientist and Director of the Center for Shark Research at Mote, and recently appointed Chief Science Advisor for OCEARCH, will work on M/V OCEARCH this week.
Once each shark is captured, the research team including Hueter will take measurements and conduct health assessments of the giant fish by collecting blood, muscle, mucus and parasite samples, and fin clips for genetics.
“12 procedures in 15 minutes and then off they go, that’s our goal,” said Hueter. “It’s such an incredibly rare opportunity to learn everything we can about these magnificent predators so we can understand and protect them.”
All white sharks will be outfitted with satellite-linked electronic tags and internal acoustic tags. Anyone and everyone can follow their movements by accessing the near-real time, free online Global Shark Tracker (www.ocearch.org) or by downloading the Global Shark Tracker App available for Apple and Android platforms.
When asked how the first full day of Expedition New York went, Hueter replied, “The table is set, the crew and science team are ready and the area is full of life. A baby shortfin mako shark was caught today which was a beautiful fish to see, but our crew is ready for the baby white sharks. Some rainy weather has moved in, but it won’t deter us as the forecast looks great for the rest of the week.”
About OCEARCH: OCEARCH is a recognized world leader in generating critical scientific data related to tracking (telemetry) and biological studies of keystone marine species such as great white and tiger sharks, in conjunction with conservation outreach and education at a measurable global scale. OCEARCH shares real-time migration data through OCEARCH’s Global Shark Tracker – In 2015, OCEARCH open-sourced the data on the Global Shark Tracker to 2.3 million users. The researchers OCEARCH supports work aboard the M/V OCEARCH, a 126-foot Cat-powered vessel equipped with a 75,000–pound hydraulic research platform, where the ship serves as both mothership and at-sea laboratory. More than 131 researchers from 69 regional and international institutions have partnered with OCEARCH.