Tracking great white sharks
Great white sharks swim around a lot. Crazy, right? I was surprised too.
The nature of their movements can be effected by numerous variables. Age, sex, location, size, prey distribution, geography, even personality.
Manual acoustic tracking is a method of ecological research, whereby a tag is deployed to a free swimming animal. These tags don’t work the same as satellite tags, which only transmit data when they come to the surface. These are far smaller, attached with minimal interference to the shark and the data must be recorded manually.
To do this, we follow the shark on a boat equipped with a device which receives data from the tag. We record this data at specific intervals for as long as possible, both at day and night. Doing so allows us to develop a stronger understanding of shark behaviour which can likewise be compared to tracking data from other areas.
Oliver Jewell’s Masters Thesis was based on this very subject. I made the following film way back in 2012.
As of September 2019, only three of us (myself, Oliver Jewell and Michelle Wcisel) have tracked great white sharks in both Mossel Bay and Gansbaai, South Africa.
Much of the data collected with this technique is to be featured in Alison Towner’s PhD and hopefully, further studies aimed at uncovering the mysteries of these animals’ behaviour.
For those interested in learning how to track great white sharks, the Scientific Internship I helped to develop at Marine Dynamics Academy offers practical training in this very area.
All Research Projects
Gauging the threat How many white sharks live in Gansbaai?
White shark kinematics What do white sharks do underwater?
White shark tracking Where do white sharks go?
The tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth Do sharks have individual personalities?
Externalising the Archive
White shark research priorities What do we need to learn about white sharks?
Cryptic habitat use of white sharks in kelp forest revealed by animal-borne video Do sharks swim through or around kelp?
Laser Scanning at Staffordshire University
Marine Dynamics Academy Scientific Internship