Expedition White Shark

Posted on Jun 1, 2010 in Articles | Comments Off on Expedition White Shark

Expedition White Shark App

Welcome to Expedition White Shark, the world’s first app designed to track adult white sharks in real time! To make this possible, scientists at the Marine Conservation Science Institute attached custom satellite tags to the dorsal fin of adult Great White Sharks, allowing us to follow their movements from Satellites orbiting the earth. Expedition White Shark allows you to receive near real time Great White Shark tracking data at the same time as the research scientists.  Positions for the tagged sharks can only be calculated when a shark is at the surface with its dorsal fin out of the water for several minutes; since sharks are not always finning we receive intermittent position data from our sharks, but each signal beamed to us form space adds to our growing knowledge of the life history of this species. Since you are getting our data in near real time you will notice that the satellites sometimes make mistakes, placing the shark far from its actual location; we correct these errors later, when we analyze the data.  The MCSI satellite tagging of Great White Sharks has led to many important new findings regarding white shark biology, and each new day brings promise of a new discovery that you can make with us!

You can view the track for individual sharks or monitor the current positions for tagged sharks.
Under current data, sharks with positions within the last 30 days are marked with fin and sharks with historical location data on today’s date in previous years are marked with dot. This shows patterns of where the sharks may be found this time of year.

Short video clips within the app demonstrate how we safely capture, tag and release these large charismatic creatures, while also presenting new insight into the life history and conservation of the species.  Explore the detailed histories of individual Great White Sharks by visiting our Shark Profiles.

White Shark attacks on humans are rare, but they can occur; Expedition White Shark allows you to explore all white shark attacks that have occurred along the Pacific Coast of the United States and Australia. Zoom in to the coast and you will see red fins appear; if you click on an individual fin, you will learn the basic details of the event. The migratory behavior of this species creates a seasonal pattern of shark attacks and you can decrease your risk of a white shark encounter if you know when and where they may occur.

The Expedition White shark app is available for apple and android products.

Here are some frequently asked questions about tagging and tracking great white sharks…

Dr. Domeier and other white shark researchers have used satellite tags in the past that do not require the shark to be captured, why is Dr. Domeier using new tags that do require handling the shark?
The older generation of satellite tags could only track a shark for one year at the very most.  Once we learned that adult white sharks have a migration pattern that exceeds one year, he turned to the newer SPOT tags.  The SPOT tags he developed with the tag manufacturer will track individual adult white sharks for 4-6 years. This technology is ideal for looking at large scale long term movement patterns and will help reveal the entire migratory patterns of these sharks. This is especially important for tracking the mating and birthing areas for the females which have a 2-3 year migration cycle.

Is the data important?
The more we know about these sharks that more we can protect them, and there is still much that we don’t know. This is especially important since they cross international boundaries and we are dealing with mating areas, pupping areas and nursery grounds. These are particularly sensitive areas that need to be protected.

Does it hurt the sharks to drill into their dorsal fin?
Sharks do not have the same sensitivity to pain as humans.  The sharks do not even react when the tags are being attached to their fins.

After being released do the sharks flee the area right away?
Fortunately we have a lot of previous experience with these sharks so we know the general behavior patterns.  We have not found the capture and tagging to alter the migratory habits of these fish.  Instead, the SPOT tagging has allowed us to answer research questions that we could have never addressed using older technologies.

What is tonic immobility and how does it work?
Tonic immobility is a trance-like state experienced by sharks when they are placed and held upside down.  It is not know why this phenomenon occurs, shark researchers often use tonic immobility to their advantage, so they can safely handle live sharks.  Once placed upright, the sharks snap out of tonic immobility and resume normal behavior.

How long will the tags transmit data for?
Our SPOT tags are designed to transmit from 4-6 years.

How do you know that the sharks survive?
We know the sharks survive because the SPOT tags can only transmit to orbiting satellites when the shark is swimming at the surface.  If the sharks did not survive the tagging method then we would not get any signal.  We’ve gotten signals from all of our tagged sharks.

What is the brown, sometimes shaggy or stringy looking stuff that can be seen on the fins and bodies of the sharks?
Those are a type of external parasite, most likely a parasitic copepod.  They are very common, not only on sharks, but on other species of fish as well.  Just imagine your dog without a flea treatment!

For more information on our comprehensive white shark research program click here

Terms of Use

Ownership of Copyright

The copyright of this application and the materials on this application (including without limitation the tracking data, text, computer code, artwork, photographs, images, material, video material and audio-visual materials on this Application is owned by Marine Conservation Science Institute, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.)

Copyright License

Marine Conservation Science Institute grants to you a worldwide, non-exclusive royalty-free revocable license to:

  • View this application and the material on this application on a mobile device
  • Copy and store this application and the material on this application through your iTunes account or on an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch

Marine Conservation Science Institute does not grant you other rights in relation to this application or the material on this application. In other words, all other rights are reserved. For the avoidance of doubt, you must not adapt, edit, change, transform, publish, republish, distribute, redistribute, broadcast, rebroadcast or show or play in public this application or the material on this application in any form or media.

Data Mining

The automated and/or systematic collection of data from this application is prohibited.

Availability of Tracking Data

  • The continued tracking of sharks on this app is dependent upon the condition of existing tags on sharks and our ability to tag new sharks in the future. These tags are susceptible to many factors that render them nonoperational. For example, the batteries eventually run out, the sharks shed the tags and/or biofouling organisms cause the tag to fail. If at some time in the future no tags are transmitting and we are unable to tag more sharks, the app could be terminated without notice.
  • The proceeds from this app go directly back into our research activities, so we thank you for your support and encourage you to turn your friends on to our app!

Enforcement of Copyright

Marine Conservation Science Institute takes the protection of its copyright very seriously. If Marine Conservation Science Institute discovers that you have used its copyright materials in contravention of the license above, Marine Conservation Science Institute may bring legal proceedings against you seeking monetary damages and an injunction against to stop you using these materials resulting in substantial legal costs awarded against the offending entity/entities.

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