Since last September, researchers in Massachusetts have begun to track Great Whites by tagging special GPS tracking devices on their dorsal fins that allow researchers to see their navigational pattern for the purpose of shark conservation.
The program not only helps researchers attain groundbreaking data on the biology and health of sharks, but also provides a tool for the public to do some interesting real time shark tracking. Just go to the OCEARCH website or Facebook page , and you can choose the name of the shark you are interested to see its current and recent activities with clear map graphic. This week, we found Mary Lee, a 16 foot 3,400 pound Great White shark that is tracked, was plying the waters off the coast of Florida. She actually entered the surf zone Tuesday morning near Jacksonville’s Coast. Jacksonville police urged people to stay out of the water while Mary Lee is around, although the chances of encountering her on a whole stretch of coastline are pretty minimal.
Sharks play a crucial role of maintaining balance in the delicate oceanic ecosystem as they have an effect on all levels in the food chain. The slaughtering of sharks by humans puts the shark at risk for survival. The navigational and migratory data collected from OCEARCH will contribute to future shark conservation and management strategies that will affect policy for global change.