Why Great White Sharks are Being Tagged and Tracked off the Jersey CoastLast Edited:
Over the last few summers, great white sharks have been tracked just miles off of the Jersey Shore coast, gathering a lot of attention from across the country as their locations ping on social media.
OCEARCH, a non-profit organization dedicated to gathering data safely about the species is currently conducting their 29th exhibition, right off of the coast in Cape May County.
“People are starting to realize that there’s no good future for our ocean without a good future for our sharks,” said Chris Fischer, founding chairman of OCEARCH.
What scientists call the “balance keepers” of the ocean, great white sharks have been popping up all over the East Coast.
“White sharks are kind of a keystone species to the ocean,” said Dr. Mike Hyatt, the chief scientist for OCEARCH’s current exhibition. “They’re an apex predator, they keep everything in balance, and so, if we lose the sharks, it’s going to throw off the balance of the rest of the food webs that could then decimate the fish populations.”
People are starting to realize that there’s no good future for our ocean without a good future for our sharks.
As scientists and expert fishermen gather together this week aboard the OCEARCH ship, they hope to continue solving the puzzle of this species.
If a great white shark gets close, the crew is able to guide it onto an underwater platform, bringing the shark safely above water so data can be collected and a harmless tracker can be installed on its dorsal fin, before being released back into the ocean.
“We don’t see any flinching and they don’t really have any nerve endings, so it’s just kind of like getting your ears pierced,” said Hyatt.
While OCEARCH workers hope that their research can help us understand the mystery of the ocean, others want to give the sharks their own voice.
“Even though I had a, not so fortunate, mishap with a shark, I still see how important they are to our oceans,” said Lisa Mondy, an ambassador for Don’t Fear the Fin campaign.
Six years ago, Mondy was wakeboarding off the coast of Australia when she had a run-in with a great white.
“A great white shark about four-meters long came straight up from under the water, grabbed my head and arm inside his mouth and launched out of the water with me and took me down under water with it,” said Mondy.
So whether you have a personal connection or are trying to understand the ocean better, OCEARCH is continuing its groundbreaking research to secure the future of the ocean.
“As we figure out the lives of the white sharks, we can help them succeed, which means the whole ocean succeeds,” said Fischer.
Although no great whites made an appearance while I was aboard, the OCEARCH team is standing by, waiting for its next visitor.
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