How Shark Tagging and Tracking Works

20 Jul 2022

In honor of Shark Week starting on July 24th, here is an article about how shark tagging and tracking work.

Did you know you don’t have to be a marine biologist to track sharks? In fact, there are several websites and apps that allow you to track the movement of tagged sharks around the world.

Why Are Sharks Tagged or Tracked?

One important reason why sharks are tagged and tracked is that much is still being learned about shark behaviors, migration, lifespan, and population. Tagging and tracking allow marine biologists to see where specific sharks spend their time and can help them with shark conservation.

Another great reason for tracking sharks is for human safety. Knowing where sharks are at any given time allow people involved in any oceanside activities to be aware of shark activity. For example, surfers using an app to track sharks may delay surfing or choose a different location if they see that their original spot has dangerous sharks nearby.

How Are Sharks Tracked and Tagged?

 Sharks are tracked by either using satellite or a method called tagging. Each method requires a small device like a tag to be attached to the shark via a brightly colored string. Minor trauma due to catching, securing, and tagging the shark is inevitable, but captors try to make the experience as non-invasive as possible.

Satellite tracking uses a satellite receptor that can provide live updates regarding the sharks’ whereabouts, accurate to within a few hours. The satellite receptor is secured to the shark’s dorsal fin.

 Tagging on the other hand is more common than satellite tracking. Although tagging isn’t as accurate as satellite tracking, it is still useful and reliable for tracking sharks and is cheaper than tracking.

The dart tag is the most common type of tag. Using this method, a dart is attached to the dorsal fin and connects to a brightly colored string holding the shark’s capture information. The dart tag usually includes the contact information of the original captor. If the tagged shark is captured and killed, then the original captor can be informed to update the information.

Casey darts are another tagging method used for larger, more aggressive sharks. Casey darts are darts designed for larger sharks. Like other darts, they are secured to the base of the shark’s dorsal fins, but the captors use a long pole to do so to avoid being harmed by the shark or causing the shark to go into a frenzy and harm itself.

If you want to start tracking sharks yourself, there are plenty of websites that track sharks, like Ocearch.



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