‘Racing’ Sharks in the Name of Science

Written by on March 4, 2015 in Marine Life, Sharks
Great Shark Race Logo

Great Shark Race Logo

In an effort to learn more about sharks’ movement patterns, Nova Southeastern University (NSU), the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI), and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) are conducting a race. Guy Harvey’s Great Shark Race isn’t like a typical race, however, because in this race, it’s the sharks that are competing.

Here’s how it works: Individuals are businesses are invited to sponsor sharks by purchasing satellite tracking tags for $5,000. The tags will be placed either on mako sharks or oceanic whitetip sharks, dividing sponsors into ether the Mako Division or the Oceanic Whitetip Division. The shark in each division that travels the farthest over the course of six months wins. The person who sponsored the winning shark will win a Florida Keys fishing vacation.

The satellite tags allow researchers to track the animals as they move across the open ocean, helping them develop a better understanding of shark movement patterns. Understanding when sharks travel and knowing where they travel to will help officials better manage and conserve these apex predators. This is particularly important for makos and oceanic whitetips because they are both considered critically endangered by the IUCN.

Scientists measuring tagged mako shark for release off Ocean City, Maryland. Photo courtesy of GHOF.

Scientists measuring tagged mako shark for release off Ocean City, Maryland. Photo courtesy of GHOF.

“We want to have some fun, but even more importantly use the race to bring added awareness to the plight of these magnificent animals,” explained Dr. Mahmood Shivji, professor at NSU’s Oceanographic Center and the director of GHRI. “It’s vital that we learn the migratory patterns and other aspects of these animals’ lives so we can ensure they survive and thrive for years to come.”

The race begins on April 2, 2015, after GHRI researchers return from tagging mako sharks around Isla Mujeres, Mexico. We already know the names of two sharks in the mako race: Guy Harvey and Sir Richard Branson! The second leg will begin on June 1, after researchers tag oceanic whitetips around Grand Cayman. Current sponsors include Florida Sea Grant, Guy Harvey Outpost, Virgin Unite, and many others.

Learn more about the race here.

Tagged Mako Shark. Photo courtesy of GHOF.

Tagged Mako Shark. Photo courtesy of GHOF.

Copyright © 2015 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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