What Methods Are Used in Tracking Great White Sharks?


Quick Answer

Sharks are usually tagged using harpoon tagging, and the tracker placed on them can be one of two types: a pop up satellite tag or an acoustic tag. Each tag conveys different types of information, notes Amy Laskowski for Boston University.

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Full Answer

To place tags on sharks, researchers use a traditional New England harpooning vessel and seek out sharks in shallow water. When the shark is in water that is no more than 10 feet deep, it is harpooned while swimming freely. Sharks are not caught while scientists tag them.

Pop-off tags are specially designed to pop off of the shark after a certain period of time. While the tag is on the shark, information is collected about where the shark is swimming. The tag pops off, floats to the surface and conveys a large amount of archived data to a satellite.

The other type of tag relies on acoustic technology and receivers that have already been set up in specific areas. As sharks come within range of the receivers, the tag sends in a time stamp. This technology allows scientists to observe areas where sharks spend the majority of their time, the direction they came from and how long they stay in a given area.

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