Three years ago the group was able to tag a 14-foot great white shark off the coast of Jacksonville. The 2,000 pound female was named Lydia. Since that time she has traveled over 35,000 miles; Lydia even has her own twitter feed.
To Catch a Shark
Catching a shark is no easy task. The group begins by chumming the waters to lure the sharks into the area. Then seal decoys are used to entice the sharks to the surface, while spotter planes fly overhead to direct the fishing teams. Once the shark comes to the surface a crew member will begin to hand feed the shark.
Hand feeding the shark helps ensure the crew member can properly set a hook when the time is right. Making sure the hook sits in the right corner of the mouth helps ensure the shark’s safety, making the hook easier to remove once the examination is over.
The MV OCEARCH
Once the shark is hooked by one of the two support boats, it can be transfer to the MV OCEARCH. The ship is equipped with a submersible platform, which can easily support the shark’s weight. Once on the platform a science team works in unison taking blood, tissue and other scientific samples.
The crew also tags the sharks with acoustic and Smart Position and Temperature transmitting Tags (SPOT). The SPOT tag shows the sharks location; every time the tag breaks the water’s surface.
This year the group will be using Lydia’s ping locations to explore new fishing spots in hopes of catching more great whites. Should they catch another female like Lydia, they will be given an ultra sound to see if they are pregnant and to find out how many pups they have.
The data gathered by OCEARCH #Expedition JAX will help further the understanding of the ecology, physiology and behavior of white sharks in the Atlantic Ocean.