Satellite tags help understand shark movements

Tiger Shark 132069 is just over 10 feet long and was tagged by University of Hawai‘i scientists off the northern coast of Kaho‘olawe in February 2018. The female is being tracked by Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) and was last seen far off the southern coast of Lana‘i on June 22.

Her movements are being mapped through the use of satellite tags attacked to the shark’s dorsal fin that send a signal every time she surfaces — that’s been 48 times so far. The tiger sharks tracking program has two goals, according to scientists, first to gain insight about shark behavior and habitat selection. “Second, the project is testing two new technologies; a new type of satellite tag and a new way of detecting transmissions from those tags,” SOEST scientists say.

Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) researchers Carl Meyer and Kim Holland are heading up the project, and both are interested in interactions between human activity and sharks, particularly in the uptick in Maui shark bites. Most recorded bites are from tiger sharks; experts say tiger sharks are cautious and timid, and attacks could be a case of mistaken identity.

“We don’t really understand what drives the rare circumstances when sharks actually do end up biting somebody,” Meyer said in a SOEST news release about the tracking.

Read more about it in The Garden Island, and track tagged sharks at the Hawai‘i Tiger Shark Tracking website provided by PacIOOS.