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Researchers Push to Establish the Internet of Sharks

Researchers Push to Establish the Internet of Sharks 🌊⚡️📱  via @IIoT_Viewpoints

  • As the apex predator of the North Atlantic, white sharks are extremely important in maintaining the balance of the North Atlantic’s marine ecosystem.
  • As the apex predator of the oceans, white sharks are extremely important in maintaining the balance of the world’s marine ecosystem.
  • By gaining a greater understanding about the white sharks’ movements, migration patterns, and preferred habitats, scientists hope to connect the dots between sharks and the health of the North Atlantic Ocean and help make more informed decisions regarding the development of sustainable conservation and fisheries management strategies.
  • The purpose of the expedition was to collect data to build on the ongoing research, and previous findings, which will allow OCEARCH and its collaborating scientists to achieve the sample size necessary to get a complete picture of the movements and habitats for adult white sharks in the North Atlantic.
  • The Apps also allow users to drill down further, and see a track of where the shark has been since being tagged, in some cases including a detailed trail covering more than a year.

Internet of sharks

@RockStarLydia: Researchers Push to Establish the Internet of Sharks 🌊⚡️📱 via @IIoT_Viewpoints

I recently spent a day aboard the M/V OCEARCH, a 126’ Cat-powered vessel equipped with a 75,000 lb. hydraulic research platform, which serves as both mother ship and at-sea laboratory for OCEARCH and its collaborating scientists.  The purpose of the expedition was to collect data to build on the ongoing research, and previous findings, which will allow OCEARCH and its collaborating scientists to achieve the sample size necessary to get a complete picture of the movements and habitats for adult white sharks in the North Atlantic.

Just as industrial manufacturers are pushing to establish the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to achieve greater insight into their manufacturing processes, marine scientists are pushing to establish an Internet of Sharks to gather critical intelligence regarding the health of the North Atlantic’s marine ecosystem. Research suggests that the white shark population has been seriously depleted over the past 30 years through overfishing and poor fisheries management.  This depletion has thrown the North Atlantic’s marine ecosystems out of balance as the seal population in the area has steadily outgrown the white shark population over the past twenty years as a result of the increased protection surrounding seals.

As the apex predator of the North Atlantic, white sharks are extremely important in maintaining the balance of the North Atlantic’s marine ecosystem. By gaining a greater understanding about the white sharks’ movements, migration patterns, and preferred habitats, scientists hope to connect the dots between sharks and the health of the North Atlantic Ocean and help make more informed decisions regarding the development of sustainable conservation and fisheries management strategies.

A fundamental data set is critical to learn more about white shark migration habits in an effort to help protect them and increase their presence in the North Atlantic. Unfortunately, scientists are still pushing to establish an adequate sample size to develop meaningful insights into the white sharks’ movements and mating patterns.

Developing this database, however, has been a challenge for the scientific community as the worlds of scientists and fishermen have traditionally resided in silos. This is where OCEARCH fits in as an enabler to bring the two communities together by having the worlds’ best fisherman working to track sharks for the worlds’ best scientists and increase the learning curve about white sharks and their role in the ecosystem of the North Atlantic.  OCEARCH is a world leader in generating scientific data related to tracking (telemetry) and biological studies of keystone marine species such as white sharks, in conjunction with conservation outreach and education on a global scale.

By establishing a common dataset and bringing together these two disparate communities, OCEARCH hopes to make things that previously seemed impossible become very achievable. While traditional research has focused on small-scale movements, the data being gathered and tracked by OCEARCH on a global scale offers surprising new insights into where sharks go and what they do at different stages in their lifecycle.

OCEARCH is leveraging a number of technologies to establish this data set.  Each white shark captured by OCEARCH is outfitted with satellite-linked electronic tags and internal acoustic tags.  A satellite tag is attached to the dorsal fin, which is used to track a shark’s position each time it breaks the surface.  Other tags include an RFID implant whose acoustic signal is picked up whenever the shark passes underwater buoys designed to recognize this acoustic signal; an accelerometer that detects vertical movement; and a Pop-off Satellite Archive Tag (PSAT), which acts as a general archive, recording a number of different parameters including average water depth, temperature and light levels. 

None of these tracking devices on their own would provide a complete picture of the shark’s movement. When viewed holistically, however, scientists can leverage the combined data set to develop a 3D perspective of the shark’s movements.  By developing this kind of holistic picture covering the spectrum of mature males, mature females, immature males, and immature females, scientists will gain a level of understanding that is critical for scientists to make more informed decisions regarding bringing the marine ecosystem of the North Atlantic back into balance.

In addition to in-depth data for the scientific community, OCEARCH has also established an open source initiative that allows anyone and everyone to follow the movements of white sharks in near-real time by accessing the free online Global Shark Tracker or by downloading the Global Shark Tracker App available for Apple and Android platforms. Each shark’s location is represented by an icon.  By clicking on the icon, a user can get detailed information such as the species, gender, size, weight, and length, as well as where and when the shark was tagged.  In many cases, there are also images available of the shark as it was being tagged.  The Apps also allow users to drill down further, and see a track of where the shark has been since being tagged, in some cases including a detailed trail covering more than a year.

As the apex predator of the oceans, white sharks are extremely important in maintaining the balance of the world’s marine ecosystem. By gaining a greater understanding about the white sharks’ movements, migration patterns, and preferred habitats, scientists hope to connect the dots between sharks and the health of the ocean and help make more informed decisions regarding the development of sustainable conservation and fisheries management strategies.  OCEARCH plays an important role in this process as an enabler to create a much more efficient way to bring the academic expertise of scientists together with the practical knowledge of professional ocean experts so they can work together to solve this global problem.

Researchers Push to Establish the Internet of Sharks