Tracking Mako Sharks Over 4,500 Miles!

Written by on September 24, 2013 in Marine Life, Sharks
Mako shark released with a tag. Image Courtesy of the Guy Harvey Research Institute.

Mako shark released with a tag. Image Courtesy of the Guy Harvey Research Institute.

Back in April, the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) headed an expedition off the coast of Isla Mujeres, Mexico to tag mako sharks with SPOT tags.

Dr. Guy Harvey and his team from GHRI were expecting to learn more about the timing and long-distance migratory movements of mako sharks in the Atlantic Ocean, but they had no idea just how far these sharks would travel. Now, nearly six months later, two of the shortfin mako sharks, Lilly and JoAnn, are providing the researchers with valuable information.

Dr. Mahmood Shivji, Director of GHRI at Nova Southeastern University, recently reported that Lilly returned close to her original tagging site after traveling over 2,600 miles in just under six months. You can see her whole path on the GHRI interactive tracking website by checking the box next to ‘Lilly’ on the ride side of the page.

He also noted that JoAnn took a different and longer journey after being released. She traveled through the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, totaling over 4,500 miles in 5.3 months. JoAnn has traveled past the place where she was tagged on three separate occasions during that journey. Check the box next to JoAnn to see her path!

“What we are learning from Lilly and JoAnn is that these sharks do not roam randomly, but exhibit a finely tuned sense of place,” explained Dr. Shivji. “Longer term tracking will tell us if they are also exhibiting a sense of time as well as place.”

As more time passes, the researchers will get a better sense the reason for their travel, whether it’s related to mating cycles, food availability or another unknown factor.

Lilly's route. Image Courtesy of the Guy Harvey Research Institute.

Lilly’s route. Image Courtesy of the Guy Harvey Research Institute.

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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