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October 25, 2005

Fast Fishes: Great White Shark Speed Record

shark.jpgVery little is known about great white shark migration, but lately several have been tagged and tracked as they move through the oceans. Researchers found that great whites do some serious migrating - more miles a year than your average car lease!

A female great white shark has completed the first documented round-trip ocean crossing by a shark, swimming farther than any other known shark, according to a new study.

Nicole, as the shark is being called, traveled from Africa to Australia and back—a total of 12,400 miles (more than 20,000 kilometers)—in nine months. The feat also set a second record: fastest return migration of any known marine animal.

More at: Great White Breaks Distance, Speed Records for Sharks

Actively tracking great whites is a relatively new technology. When the Monterey Bay Aquarium re-released the young great white from captivity as part of their White Shark Research Project, they rigged her with a satellite tag that tracked her movements in the wild. These tags are temporary, collecting data on position, water temperature, and ocean depth. Then, on a pre-determined date, the tag disconnects from the shark and is picked up by researchers to analyze without having to recapture the animal. You can even see a map of the shark's progress on the Monterey Bay Aquarium website and they have also tagged six other young great whites in the wild.

The Pelagic Shark Research Foundation has also been tagging and counting great whites and other pelagic sharks in the Monterey Bay as part of several studies. They've put some of their research on their website including depth information, swimming patterns and lots of pictures. They use both passive and active tracking - but satelite tracking is very expensive.

Interested in following the movements of marine animals? WhaleNet's Satellite Tagging Observation Program (STOP) posts data from a variety of tagging and tracking projects currently underway, from sea turtles to elephant seals to whales. You can get lots of raw and analyzed data on the website. The previous tagging events archive is especially interesting.

Posted by sorsha at October 25, 2005 4:47 PM


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