Tracking Great White Sharks

Mary Lee Great White SharkWho said mobile check-ins were just for humans?

They also work well for sharks, including great white sharks.

Great white sharks?

Yes. As a lifelong offshore sailor, I have a fascination and paranoia of the ocean’s ultimate apex predator.

Which is partly why I’m so amazed by the work of OCEARCH, a nonprofit organization that conducts “unprecedented research” on the ocean’s giants.

OCEARCH fieldwork, according to its website, involves the attracting, catching, tagging, and bio-sampling of great white sharks before they are released. (Thanks to my friend David Churbuck for pointing me to it.)

What makes great-white tagging possible is a 126’ research vessel equipped with a massive custom hydraulic lift and research platform. This lift and platform enables the sharks to be attracted and then raised out of the water to be quickly examined and tagged.

Like Foursquare operating on a smartphone, the tags include satellite transmitters that enable global check-ins, when the sharks’ dorsal fins surface. The shark’s location is tracked in a research database, but also made available for the public on a slick, live global tracking map.

Mary Lee Great White Shark Satellite TrackingOCEARCH has tagged several sharks around South Africa, and it recently has tagged a few monsters around Cape Cod.

Do you recall the multiple great white sightings from the beaches of Cape Cod last summer? Well, they really are swimming around. This includes a 3,456-pound female, which the researchers named Mary Lee. You should check out the amazing pictures.

You should also consider donating to this worthy cause.

According to expedition leader Chris Fischer on OCEARCH’s website: “Tagging provides real-time tracking for up to five years. Our goal is to increase knowledge of these animals to ensure that they have a robust future. Conservation decisions should be driven by data rather than emotion.”

Perhaps it’s my familiarity with the Internet industry and modern digital consumer lifestyles, but there is overwhelming hype around tapping into tracking technologies and check-in data to create entertainment, deals, convenience and marketing opportunities.

Like this example with the great white sharks, I’d love to see many more location-based applications work toward the sustainability of humans and our planet. Let’s start to use this data for our greater, collective good — not just marketing gain and government intelligence.

This article also ran in MediaPost.

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

Leave a comment