If you watch Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, you probably remember the footage of a great white shark attacking an underwater camera that went viral in 2014. That camera, the REMUS SharkCam, is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that was designed to help scientists better understand great white shark behavior in order to improve conservation efforts. It was used during a 2013 expedition and the results were recently published.
“We wanted to test the REMUS SharkCam technology to prove that is was a viable tool for observing marine animals—sharks in this case—and to collect substantial data about the animal’s behavior and habitat,” Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution engineer Amy Kukulya, one of REMUS SharkCam’s principal investigators, explained in a news release.
During the expedition, researchers tagged and tracked four sharks (one male and three females) and collected over 13 hours of video with REMUS. They also captured footage of several sharks that weren’t tagged — they logged 30 interactions with 10 individuals.
“Most of what we know about white shark predatory behavior comes from surface observations. We have all seen pictures or footage of sharks surging out of the water to capture a seal,” said lead author of the study Greg Skomal of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. “But we wanted to find out what was happening at depth—when the sharks swam into the deep, how were these animals behaving? Were they hunting? The REMUS AUV was the perfect tool to do this.”
The SharkCam captured many behaviors, ranging in levels of aggression from simple approaches and bumps to bites. These were the “first observations of predatory behavior well below the surface.”
If you loved the first video, make sure to tune in again this year because new footage captured from the most recent expedition (December 2015) will be released during Shark Week this summer!
To learn more:
- Read the WHOI news release: Robotic Vehicles Offer a New Tool in Study of Shark Behavior
- Take a look at the Jaws Strikes Back Cam on the Shark Week website
Copyright © 2016 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.