New Shark Tracking Methods Make Info Available to Public

Written by on August 22, 2012 in Marine Life, Technology

Two new programs to track shark movements have been implemented over the last few weeks.

Basking Sharks in Scotland

Basking shark. Photo Credit: NOAA.

Basking shark. Photo Credit: NOAA.

A collaboration between with University of Exeter and Scottish Natural Heritage has provided online, real-time information about basking sharks off the coast of Scotland.  Researchers are collecting this data in order to better understand shark movement and behavior, as well as to gain a better understanding of how they us their particular habitats.  The area being monitored, from Skye to Mull, on the Scottish west coast is a potential location for a new Marine Protected Areaand this information on the whereabouts of basking sharks has the potential to greatly influence the decision.  If you’re in Scotland, you are encouraged to report any basking shark sightings to the Marine Conservation Society.


Great White Sharks in California
A new self-propelled ‘surfing robot’ is being used to track great white sharks off the coast of California.  The electronic tagging program is designed not only to benefit researchers, but to raise public awareness of the local wildlife.

For this reason, the program has a free app for smartphones and tablets where users can follow the sharks’ movements.  The app is called SharkNet and will provide a map of all the recorded sharks and allow users to follow any particular shark with photos, videos and a 3D model of its previous locations. App users can also opt to receive notifications whenever a shark passes by a detection device.

Dr. Randall Kochevar, one of the developers of the app, explained that although people may realize protecting biodiversity is important, “it’s hard for them to connect on a visceral, personal level to the incredible biodiversity in their own backyard.”

Wave Glider. Photo Courtesy Stanford University, Copyright Tom 0'Leary.

Wave Glider. Photo Courtesy Stanford University, Copyright Tom 0’Leary.

The mobile tracking device is the latest in a ten year study dedicated to tracking predators in the Pacific Ocean through electronic tagging.  The robot, called a Wave Glider, is bright yellow and consists of a surfboard that floats on the surface, and a glider that descents 23 feet (7 meters) below the surface and contains a receiver that picks up the signals from the shark tags up to 1,000 feet away.

“Across the planet the goal of oceanographers and biologists alike is to observe the ocean in as much detail as possible,” explained Professor Barbara Block, head of the Global Tagging of Pelagic Predators project and shark expert from Stanford University.  “Our goal is to use revolutionary technology that increases our capacity to observe our oceans.”

You can see a video of the WaveGlider from a MotherNatureNetwork story here.
You can read the full press release here: Sea-Surfing Robot Deployed to Help Track White Sharks in the Pacific.


Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of OceanLines LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of 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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