OCEARCH is returning to the Lowcountry armed with new data and new equipment to continue it's cutting edge research on white sharks.
Data from the OCEARCH Tracker shows our tagged white sharks ranging from adult to juvenile ages are converging right now in a region off the U.S. Southeast Coast, which OCEARCH and collaborating scientists refer to as the Northwest Atlantic Shared Foraging Area (NASFA). OCEARCH is returning to the heart of this region, which extends from Cape Canaveral, Florida to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, for its 37th expedition to conduct our most advanced research yet of white sharks’ behavior, biology, health, and habitat usage.
“This research expedition is so important because we suspect nearly all white sharks in the Northwest Atlantic utilize this NASFA region during the winter and early spring months”
Chris Fischer, OCEARCH Founding Chairman and Expedition Leader
The expedition starts in Brunswick, Georgia on January 23 and concludes in Savannah, Georgia on February 14. Throughout the expedition OCEARCH and collaborating scientists will collect biological samples to support 18 separate research projects led by 31 scientists from 22 institutions. “This is going to be a very collaborative effort,” says Expedition NASFA 2020 Chief Scientist Dr. Kim Ritchie who is an Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina at Beaufort. “We’re going to have scientists with a diverse range of expertise on this ship together. We’ll be able to combine expertise so that we can start answering more complex questions than ever before about these important predators. It’s really exciting.”
“This research expedition is so important because we suspect nearly all white sharks in the Northwest Atlantic utilize this NASFA region during the winter and early spring months,” says OCEARCH Founding Chairman and Expedition Leader Chris Fischer.
Last year’s expedition to the NASFA region resulted in four tagged white sharks including Brunswick, who became the first shark on the OCEARCH Tracker to travel to northern New Brunswick, Canada. White sharks Lydia and Hilton were both tagged on earlier expeditions in the NASFA region and were instrumental in revealing Nova Scotia as an important white shark aggregation site during the fall. Additionally, new data analysis shows inflammatory markers in some white shark blood samples taken in the NASFA region that are not present in sharks tagged farther north. Researchers will look for additional clues about what could be causing these stress indicators.
“Each time we come to this part of the world, the scientific discoveries we make are remarkable. We wouldn’t be able to make breakthroughs such as learning to look for white sharks in Canada if we didn’t work here first or if we focused all of our work in just one small area,” added Fischer.
White sharks tagged on this expedition will be added to OCEARCH’s brand new Shark Tracker App, which allows audiences to follow tagged sharks and other marine animals in near real-time. The new app is now available for free in both the Apple Store and Google Play for all mobile devices. Additionally, OCEARCH will keep audiences up to date on the latest expedition developments both on the new app and across all of its social media channels. Everyone is encouraged to follow along!