Taggings Sharks on the Delmarva Coast
The 16 foot, 3,500 lb. Great White was off the coast of Assateague and in the Chincoteague Bay in Va. earlier in May: http://www.wboc.com/clip/11467144/shark-in-the-bay
OCEARCH says that it is not unusual for Great Whites to swim near the shore this time of year. According to OSEARCH.org, the tagging installation may cause brief discomfort, but there is no evidence that it impacts them after the tagging process is finished. Sharks who come out of the water will show up on the tracker more often and show more ‘pings’ than sharks who spend more time underwater. For example, Mary Lee has many ‘pings’ off the East coast because she spends a significant time near the surface where the satellites pick up her transmitter. OCEARCH.org says that the dorsal fin on the shark has to be above the surface for a minimum of 90 seconds during which 3 consecutive pings must occur to get an accurate geo-position.
OCEARCH takes the data they collect from the sharks and shares it with institutions where students conduct studies and write papers about their findings. Follow OCEARCH on Twitter and Facebook to keep track of tagged sharks. Also, follow Mary Lee on Twitter! This is a fake Twitter handle for Mary Lee, but it has drawn over 50,000 followers. Her witty replies and her personal emoticon, “-:()” have captured the attention of many.
Great Whites are not the only sharks that are being tagged on the East coast. There is a boat captain in Ocean City who tags Mako sharks from May 15-31. WBOC reporter Bill Mich recently spent 10 hours on a boat in the Atlantic Ocean with Mark Sampson, boat captain, and Mahmood Shivji from the Institute at NOVA Southeastern University in Florida.
They caught their first Mako at 9:30 a.m. and pulled him into the boat. “It’s kind of rehearsed; choreographed a bit. Almost like a pit crew at a racetrack, right? Then you know, the car comes in, everybody has to jump on and do their duties, and do it quick,” Mark says. First, they place a saltwater hose in the sharks mouth and then a towel goes over its eyes.
Next, holes are drilled into the sharks fin and the device is bolted on by a biologist. Mahmood says that this process does not hurt the shark. “The best analogy is that it is like piercing your ear and putting an earring in. You know, of course there’s a little bit of pain, but it’s not much, and it goes away very quickly, and we think it’s the same kind of thing with these sharks,” Mahmood says.
Lastly, the shark is measured and put back into the ocean. In total, the process takes about 7 minutes. The crew tagged 3 Mako sharks on their trip miles out into the Atlantic. So now, there are 3 more sharks that they can collect data from and do more research on. “We’re here to sort of understand the movement ecology or the migratory patterns of this really amazing species that is being fished so heavily. So that information can be used by managers and policy makers to make better decisions on how to sustainably manage this fishery resource,” Mahmood said.
The public will be able to see the track of those sharks in the next couple weeks and it will gather scientific information for the researchers. Biologists told Bill that Ocean City is a great place to come for the research in the summer time because the Makos can be found in great numbers there this time of year.
Tagging sharks such as Mary Lee and the 3 Makos Bill and the crew caught and tagged recently, is a great thing for research purposes, and now, we can track each time the sharks surface near our shore for years to come.