Mote Marine researcher helps track shark activity

- Whether it is the movies or the headlines, people have a lot of preconceived notions about sharks. But there's a lot about these animals that remain a mystery.

"It is incredible what we still don't know about sharks," said Dr. Heather Marshall.

Marshall is with Mote Marine Laboratory and has been trying to solve some of those mysteries.

"Their movement patterns, what is driving their migrations," she continued.

Marshall joined an expedition with OCEARCH to tag and collect blood from hammerheads, tiger sharks and others.

"We have seen populations of sharks that have been negatively impacted by a lot of our activities on the water. It is really important to maintain populations of sharks into the future," Marshall said.

On their most recent trip, Marshall and the team tagged four sharks and will monitor the activity of each one. They hope to learn how they travel and what leads them to their destination.

"Every time the shark surfaces, the tag deducts satellites overhead and we hear from the sharks," said Marshall.

They have already tracked some sharks hundreds of miles.

"Throughout  a day, we may get multiple pings and we can see where they are moving and it really allows us to start describing their movement patterns in ways that we weren't before," Marshall said.

By plotting their movements around Florida and beyond, scientists hope to better protect sharks.

"If you have a shark that is protected off the coast of Florida, it may not be in Mexico. So we need to understand how those movements may impact the ability to protect those sharks," said Marshall.

The group's work has just begun, but they hope each of their tagged sharks will give future ones a better chance.

"We need to maintain that balance into the future just to have healthy ocean ecosystems," Marshall added.

To track the activity of the sharks, click here.

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