Like his human counterparts, it seems a shortfin mako shark tagged by researchers at Nova Southeastern University's Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) has decided to visit the tropical waters off Puerto Rico.
The shark, dubbed "St. Mary's" as it's named for a school in Ohio, has "pinged" off the coast of Puerto Rico. The shark was originally tagged off Ocean City, Maryland last May.
The five-and-a-half-foot juvenile male shark is among more than 40 mako sharks satellite tagged and being tracked by researchers at NSU's GHRI. The institute began tagging mako sharks in 2009 to study their migratory patterns and now undertakes expeditions worldwide to study them. The school's marine experts have tagged mako sharks as far away as Mexico and New Zealand. In addition to makos, GHRI scientists are also tracking tiger, oceanic white tip and sand tiger sharks, as well as blue and white marlin.
This particular shark has shown quite the dramatic swim track -- spending time in northern waters and then suddenly, and dramatically, turning and heading almost due south. St. Mary's, which was caught, tagged and released on May 17, 2014, has traveled more than 7,300 miles, visiting the waters off Nova Scotia, south through the open Atlantic to Venezuela and north towards Puerto Rico.
Mahmood Shivji, Ph.D., professor at NSU Oceanographic Center and director of NSU's GHRI and Save our Seas Research Center, said his researchers have special interest in understanding mako shark migratory behavior because this information is essential for proper fisheries management and conservation of this internationally roving species.
The public can follow St. Mary's and other shark movements in near real-time online at (www.ghritracking.org).
Another unique project underway by NSU's Oceanographic Center, GHRI and The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation is The Great Shark Race. This one-of-a-kind project allows businesses and/or individuals to enhance research on these declining species by sponsoring sharks through the purchase of satellite tags. The tags enable researchers to study the sharks' migratory behavior and the public to follow these animals in near real-time via the internet as they travel.
The Great Shark Race consists of two "divisions" -- the Shortfin Mako Shark Division and the Oceanic Whitetip (OWT) Shark Division. Participants sponsor satellite tags ($5,000 each,), which are affixed to either a mako shark or an oceanic whitetip shark in the Caribbean. Then the shark in each division that travels the furthest in six months wins. Renowned marine wildlife artist and conservationist Guy Harvey Ph.D. and Sir Richard Branson are "competing in the first race" by sponsoring tags for mako sharks.
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