Shark Week: JU researchers studying shark migration through the ocean's waves

Shark week: Shark migration

The world’s oceans are always on the move.

Currents flow across the planet distributing heat and impacting weather patterns, but did you know this force of nature also play an important role in the way marine life travels around the globe?

“This is like one piece of the puzzle,” said Jacksonville University Marine Science Research Institute Executive Director Dr. Quinton White.

Researchers are studying shark migrations by watching where the waves travel.

They’ve built what are called drifters out of bamboo poles, wood and bundles of twine – all biodegradable material that will be deployed in the ocean to see where the water moves.

“In this case we’re going to take them up off of Long Island with the OCEARCH vessel and when they are out tagging sharks we are going to release our drifters and track where the currents take them,” White added.

By deploying them in New York, Dr. White hopes the drifters will track east across the Atlantic. They have launched them off Jacksonville before, but the drifters got caught in the Gulf Stream and traveled as far north as Greenland.

“Part of what we’re interested in is how the sharks are using the currents,” said White. “There’s pretty good evidence using the shark tracker that the sharks are using the currents to ride which makes sense.”

“One of the things that Chris Fischer with the OCEARCH team has done is provide us a lot of information on sharks and where they are and what they’re doing, but we still have a lot of questions to answer.”

Answers that scientists hope to get from these drifters to solve a more of this great shark puzzle.

Once these drifters are deployed in August, you’ll be able to track them in almost real time! Each one has a GPS tracker attached to it, so NOAA will have the locations logged on their website – similar to the current OCEARCH shark tracker.

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Shark Week: Many species of Hammerheads at risk of extinction

 

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