Thursday, 21 July 2011

Tagging Great White’s for science

I was fortunate enough to be invited onto a research vessel this month (July 2011) for a tagging exercise for Great White sharks. This project formed part of an ongoing study to map the movements and migration patterns of these magnificent animals. Braving rough seas and a known disposition for sea-sickness, I donned my slicks and started chumming the waters. It didn't take long for a three-and-a-half metre monster to rise from the deep.

It took 6 hours to properly tag one Great White, and make sure that everything was working perfectly. The tagging procedure is fairly painless for the animal, and involved a long pole, with a tracking device attached to a barb at the end. There are a number of considerations that need to be taken into account before jabbing the dorsal fin, which include distance from boat to shark, parallel angle of shark to boat, height of dorsal fin above water, etc. All very scientific!

This data will be shared with fellow marine biologists around the world to better promote the understanding of these misunderstood animals. They are not blood-hungry man-eaters, but rather animals at the top of the food chain that are being hunted relentlessly. It is only through comprehending the complex behaviours and biology of these species, that we will be able to inform people about the importance of them in marine ecosystems.    

Gregg Brill
Senior researcher & writer at green24

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