Tracking Sharks


The speed with which a great white shark released from Monterey Bay Aquarium last month has made its way down to Mexico is making the news:

The great white shark that was released from the Monterey Bay Aquarium in February definitely knew what it meant to swim and don’t look back. The great white shark has made incredible progress since leaving the aquarium, and has many stunned.

The shark took just six weeks to make it all of the way to Baja.

The shark was a young male and spent 162 days at the aquarium after it was caught by a commercial fisherman in August.

The shark was caught accidentally.

San Jose Mercury News has more on this record-setting shark:

"It’s surprising that he did it as quick as he did," said John O’Sullivan, who oversees the live animal exhibits at the aquarium.

At a speed that’s astonished even longtime researchers tracking his progress through electronic tags, the shark has made it to 40 miles west of Mazatlán and is now the fastest young great white shark on record, O’Sullivan said.

None of the other sharks tagged and released by the aquarium have made it to Mexico with such accuracy and speed.

"It’s exciting to us that this animal has shown this behavior," O’Sullivan said.

So how does the tracking system work, and who does it? Check out the science behind the tracking

 Researchers from several institutions, including Stanford University, have joined their efforts in a Census of Marine Life project called Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP). Since the project began in 1999, they have attached more than 3,000 tags to sharks, seals, whales, tunas, squids, turtles, albatross and more. For the first time, these TOPP researchers are getting a glimpse of a pelagic ecosystem from the California Current to the North Pacific at daily, seasonal and yearly time scales….

Through tracking the tagged sharks, the TOPP team has found two distant destinations that the sharks favor, both of which they visit on a regular, annual travel timetable. Each winter the white sharks head out from the California coast, with some going to the Hawaiian Islands. Most, however, head to another hotspot, out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This second location is roughly 1,300 miles from the mainland—about half the distance to Hawaii—and a few hundred miles to the south of the direct route to the islands. Dubbed "the white shark café" by the researchers, just what the attraction is out there remains something of a puzzle. But what is clear is that all the sharks that summer along the California coast show remarkable fidelity; when they return to the mainland, they head for the same local neighborhoods that they favor every summer.

Let’s just hope the great white released from Monterey Bay doesn’t favor a certain beach off the coast of Long Island. With his speed, he could just make it there by the 4th of July.