Technology allows average people to witness the most marvelous happenings in the world. For anyone who is interested in marine life (specifically sharks) then the Ocean Globe Shark Tracker by OCEARCH will prove to be extremely interesting.
OCEARCH’s Global Shark Tracker allows those who engage the program to observe the navigational patterns of sharks. All the monitored sharks have been tagged with satellite tracked technology that was implanted for the purposes of shark conservation. According to the OCEARCH website:
“OCEARCH facilitates unprecedented research by supporting leading researchers and institutions seeking to attain groundbreaking data on the biology and health of sharks, in conjunction with basic research on shark life history and migration. Sharks play a crucial role of maintaining balance in the delicate oceanic ecosystem as they have an effect on all levels in the food web below them. Unfortunately sharks are being slaughtered every day putting the shark at risk for survival. The navigational and migratory data being collected from OCEARCH will be used to support and devise successful conservation and management strategies which will affect policy for global change. OCEARCH fieldwork involves the attracting, catching, tagging, and bio-sampling of sharks before they are released. The shark is monitored at all times under expert guidance and maintained on the platform by water over its gills. All fieldwork is done according to agreed and approved protocols based primarily on ethical considerations, and overseen by leading scientists/researchers.”
The OCEARCH website is filled with frequently updated blogs, photos, and even videos of how the sharks are caught, tagged, and then released and monitored. Sharks can swim thousands of miles in a relatively short period of time as is illustrated by the clear site maps. Although they generally like warm water instead of cold, sharks will go where their food sources are in the greatest numbers. Hence, many sharks have been reported in the icy waters of Cape Cod due to the many seals that have migrated there. One look at the lengthy travel path of the sharks on the site (mainly on American and South African coasts) is both shocking and impressive.
In order to individualize each monitored shark, the researchers give everyone a name. For example, a shark known as “Mary Lee” is named after a researcher’s mother since she was always supportive of her son’s career path.
The OCEARCH website is addictive and it will hold particular interest for anyone who aspires to become a marine biologist, specifically one that specializes in sharks. Projects like this prove that technology can truly help purely naturalistic causes such as conserving a species as well as raising public interest—and subsequently overall awareness—of what sharks do for the ecosystem and why they must be preserved.
For zoology students in the making to those who find leisurely interest in nature and technology this is certainly a cause worth looking into. For more information visit: http://sharks-ocearch.verite.com/