Mid Atlantic Expedition


Led here by Mature White Shark Mary Lee and Immature White Shark Cisco, OCEARCH and its collaborating scientists are coming to Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey for the first time ever. The team will focus on multiple species: White, Tiger, Blue, and Mako Sharks. Download the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker to follow our newly tagged sharks, in real-time!


Click to read full science brief.


Expedition Team

Mid Atlantic Expedition Education Packet


You can follow along as OCEARCH goes on an Expedition to the Mid Atlantic. Mary Lee, Katherine, Lydia, and Manhattan have all pinged in, in this region over the past year or more! What brings them to this region? You can track and follow along with OCEARCH as we all find out together! Replace fear with facts as you learn more about Great White Sharks, Keystone species, participate in shark science experiments, and projects, and explore the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean, as you track the pings of your favorite sharks. You will also see how scientists are measuring shark bite force, checking on their health and nutrition, and see how to use the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker to gather near real-time data to complete the S.T.E.M. activities!


Click to read full education brief.


FAQ – Expedition Mid Atlantic

Where is the research expedition taking place?
The expedition will take place in the mid-atlantic region, which includes Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey.
When is the research expedition?
The expedition begins on June 23, 2017 and ends on July 13, 2017. The expedition will kick off with education and outreach events from June 23 - 25 in Norfolk, VA and the research will begin on June 26th.
How many researchers are embarking on this expedition?
There are 10 researchers, from 9 institutions, embarking on the expedition. There are also 7 other scientists from 8 institutions receiving samples collected from the sharks.
Which institutions will be participating and/or receiving samples from this expedition?
The expedition will include scientists from the Adventure Aquarium, Mote Marine Laboratory, Georgia Aquarium, University of Delaware, Virginia Aquarium, Georgia Southern, University of South Carolina-Beaufort, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, WCS’ New York Aquarium, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, University of Massachusetts, University of North Florida, Auburn University, College of Charleston, University of Florida, Cape Canaveral Scientific, South Eastern Zoological Alliance for Reproductive Conservation.
What are your objectives for this expedition?
OCEARCH and its team of collaborating scientists are embarking on their 29th expedition, to tag mature white sharks in the Mid-Atlantic. The team’s goal is to gather data on the ecology, physiology, and behavior of sharks in the Atlantic Ocean, and to increase the sample size of the research started in 2012 in Cape Cod, MA.
What species will you focus on?
The expedition will focus on multiple species: white, tiger, blue, mako, and hammerhead sharks
Can you describe your process for tagging a shark?
Sharks are caught from tenders using handlines and are guided by hand in the water on and off the lift. After capture, sharks are brought to the submerged platform of the M/V OCEARCH vessel and the platform is raised. Once the sharks are restrained and hoses of water have been set to enable the flow of oxygen, they are measured. SPOT and acoustic tags are attached.
What samples will you collect from the sharks?
Once caught, the sharks will be measured, sexed and tissue, blood, fin clips, and parasites samples are collected. Small fin clips are removed with a pair of scissors; a muscle sample is removed from the flank with a 8mm biopsy punch and two blood samples are taken from the caudal vein.
Will the sample collection and studies impact the shark’s health?
While the tagging method, which has been used on sharks and other species for over a half century may cause some level of brief discomfort, there is no scientific evidence that it impacts their behavior or survival post-release. In fact, data from the Global Shark Tracker provides strong evidence that the animals tagged using this method show long-term survival and long-distance migrations indicative of normal function and reproductive cycles.
What studies will you run from the samples?
Scientists will assess the physiological effects of capture stress in the white shark, including characterizing post release recovery; assess the reproductive condition, reproductive cycle, gestation period, and fecundity of white sharks in the Atlantic Ocean; understand parasite species presence, abundance, and infection sites in white sharks; perform comparative analysis of DNA sequence variation in the white shark; study contaminants of emerging concern in white sharks from US Atlantic waters, including flame retardants, pharmaceuticals, and other anthropogenic pollutants released into aquatic environments; develop values for trace minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids for white sharks; and identifying mutualistic interactions between bacteria and host organisms.
What does the tracking data from the Global Shark Tracker tell us about sharks?
The data allows us to see the range of shark movements in different parts of the world - their migration patterns - and helps us uncover the areas in need of protection. The tracking data allows studies such as the examination of fine and broad-scale movements, habitat use, site fidelity, residency, and feeding behavior of white sharks. The data we’ve enabled so far, has allowed scientists to figure out the mating and breeding sites of the species on the west coast of Mexico – Guadalupe Island. Scientists have also documented the first migration of Great White Sharks to the gulf, and the mid-Atlantic ridge.
What happens to the data you’ve collected?
The data is shared in an open source environment with collaborating institutions that utilize it to conduct studies that are eventually published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The papers, which can take 2-5 years to publish, are used to assist in policy decisions.
How can I follow the expedition?
Follow OCEARCH on​ ​Facebook​,​ ​Twitter​, Instagram (@OCEARCH), and​ ​YouTube​ for real-time Expedition Lowcountry updates.
You can also follow the sharks tagged during Expedition Lowcountry by accessing the near-real time, free online​ ​Global Shark Tracker​ or by downloading the Global Shark Tracker App available for​ ​Apple​ and​ ​Android​ platforms.
Who supports the expedition?
Costa Sunglasses, YETI Coolers, Southern Tide, SAFE Boats, Contender, Landry’s, and Mustang support the expedition.

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