The Atlantic Shark Institute announced Wednesday that on July 3, 2021 they were able to deploy an acoustic tag into a great white shark in RI waters. This is the just the second time a great white shark has been tagged using this technology in RI waters, and the second time the ASI has tagged a great white shark in less than three weeks. The first great white was tagged on June 12th. This shark was a female, was reported to be 5 1/2 feet long and was also a rare juvenile, according to the ASI.
“This is really remarkable” shared Jon Dodd, Executive Director of the Atlantic Shark Institute. “To wait so long to deploy the first acoustic tag on a white shark in RI history was truly a watershed moment for us and this critical research, but to tag a second white shark this soon thereafter is really stunning to all of us” added Dodd. “This is the third juvenile white shark we’ve been able to tag in less than a year and each one is going to allow us to fill in the complex and growing puzzle of this elusive species and age class,” he continued.
It should be noted that on the same day the Atlantic Shark Institute tagged the young white shark, a young minke whale was found dead and floating in the Harbor of Refuge close to where the shark was tagged and released. “Clearly sharks, and whites sharks specifically are really attracted to whale carcasses, and the slick that they create. However, we really don’t know if there is a direct connection between the white shark and the whale carcass particularly when we had the white shark in the Harbor of Refuge less than three weeks ago and no whale was present at that time” Dodd noted.
The acoustic tag will last for 10 years and will allow the Atlantic Shark Institute and researchers to follow the female shark’s movements for many migrations. Much like a social security number, every time she passes within 500-800 yards of an acoustic receiver, it will register the day and time that she swam by. With many seasons of data, these tagged sharks are critical to researchers. Fewer than 300 white sharks have been tagged in the NW Atlantic using this technology and the vast majority of those have been adult and sub-adult sharks. “That’s what makes this work so exciting and so important”, added Dodd. “These young-of-the-year (YOY) and juvenile white sharks aren’t easy to find, tag and release so every one of them is really important if we are to understand how size, age and sex plays a role in what they do and where they go.”
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