Oceana and Collaborators Launch Interactive Shark Map for Shark Week
Customized map overlays the movements of 45 tagged sharks with commercial fishing
Press Release Date: July 23, 2018
Location: Washington, DC
To celebrate Shark Week and increase awareness about the threats facing sharks, Oceana worked with shark experts Dr. Austin Gallagher, Chief Scientist and CEO of Beneath the Waves; Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, Research Associate Professor at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (UM); and additional collaborators to launch a new interactive map today that displays the movements of 45 tagged sharks in relation to commercial fishing activity. The sharks were tagged between 2012 and 2018 at various locations around the United States, and tagged species include blue, tiger, shortfin mako, great hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead, porbeagle and dusky sharks. The shark tracks were added to the Global Fishing Watch platform to highlight the overlap between sharks and commercial fishing.
The map shows that the sharks travel far and wide, and some stand out:
- The 45 sharks traveled throughout the northwest Atlantic Ocean, covering over 150,000 miles total.
- A 7-foot-8-inch adult male shortfin mako shark named “Oscar” traveled more than 22,000 miles in less than two years.
- An 8-foot-4-inch adult male blue shark named “Buzz” traveled the furthest south of all the tagged sharks—over 3,000 miles from Cape Cod, past the Caribbean to South America!
Fun facts about the species of sharks shown in the interactive map:
- The blue shark is one of the most common and widest ranging sharks.
- Blue sharks are named for their brilliant blue color.
- Tiger sharks can grow up to 18 feet long.
- They have been known to eat human “garbage” including metal, plastic, and food scraps.
- Shortfin mako sharks are considered the fastest shark, with swimming speeds reaching about 20 mph.
- Unlike most other sharks, shortfin mako sharks are warm blooded.
- The great hammerhead is the largest of all the hammerhead species.
- One of their favorite food items is the stingray—stinger included.
- The lifespan of the scalloped hammerhead shark is thought to be more than 30 years.
- Young scalloped hammerheads live in large schools.
- The “beagle” part of the name is a reference to their hunting abilities.
- The porbeagle shark usually has about four pups per litter.
- The dusky shark reaches maturity at 20 years old, and may even live to 45 years.
- The average dusky shark is 10 feet long and weighs between 350-400 pounds.
“As people celebrate Shark Week, it’s important to remember that sharks are under threat,” said Beth Lowell, senior campaign director at Oceana. “Using interactive tools like Global Fishing Watch, paired with tagged wildlife data, we can learn more about how commercial fishing impacts these animals. Oceana hopes to expand this initiative by collaborating with other researchers who are interested in sharing their marine wildlife tagging data.”
“Many species of large sharks remain highly vulnerable throughout our oceans, and the integration provided here highlights the magnitude of threats they face,” said project leader Dr. Austin Gallagher from Beneath the Waves. “While tracking sharks remains a very exciting way to get people interested in their conservation, I hope this tool opens people’s eyes to the challenges facing their populations every day.”
“Highly mobile sharks, such as those reflected in this interactive map, often navigate through a gauntlet of fishing vessels with potential interactions,” said Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, Research Associate Professor at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (UM). “Many fishing gear types can put these sharks at risk, as both target and bycatch—especially in the international waters of the high seas where no catch limits exist for many shark species.”
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one third of the world’s wild fish catch. With nearly 200 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that one billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit www.oceana.org to learn more.
Beneath the Waves
Beneath the Waves is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance the conservation of sharks through cutting-edge scientific research. Working alongside leading marine biologists, they use innovative technologies to monitor the behavior and physiology of sharks and their prey in order to create the evidence needed to tackle timely conservation issues and promote ocean health. Visit www.beneaththewaves.org to learn more.