(PARK CITY, UT – August 11, 2016)—OCEARCH and its team of collaborating scientists are joining forces in the waters off Long Island, New York for a wide-ranging study to gather data on the ecology, physiology, and behavior of sharks in the Atlantic Ocean, with a special focus on blue, mako, and great white sharks.
“More than two dozen sharks are known from waters in the New York Bight, where they play an important role in the healthy functioning of our ocean and coastal ecosystems,” said Merry Camhi of WCS’s New York Aquarium.
As an organization specializing in tracking sharks while engaging in global conservation outreach and education, OCEARCH will bring its unique shark platform and at-sea research laboratory—the MV OCEARCH—to New York waters for its 26th expedition. The research vessel will host a multi-institutional science team from WCS, NOAA Fisheries, South Hampton Schools, Florida Atlantic University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Stony Brook University.
One focus of the expedition will be to determine what role the New York Bight region plays in the life history of sharks. Scientists suspect that the nearby south shore of Long Island may serve as a nursery area for the great white shark, a theory stemming from the migratory patterns of five great whites previously tagged by OCEARCH collaborating scientists.
“The waters off Long Island are the only known hot spot for baby white sharks in the North Atlantic,” said Tobey Curtis, lead scientist and Fisheries Manager at NOAA Fisheries. “White sharks and other species rely on New York’s productive coastal waters for the first years of their lives. Understanding where, when, and how these sharks use this area can help us better predict how human activities might be impacting them.”
In its upcoming expedition, OCEARCH’s objective is to tag multispecies of sharks in the region and to allow the public to follow their migratory patterns in real-time on the Global Shark Tracker.
“New York Aquarium scientists have been studying the movements of blue and mako sharks offshore since 2012, and we expect our partnership with OCEARCH to shed additional light on when the sharks are in our waters, their migratory pathways, and how we can improve our conservation efforts,” added Merry Camhi of WCS’s New York Aquarium.
This expedition will mark OCEARCH’s first time in New York waters. Most New Yorkers are unaware that there are sharks just offshore of Long Island’s beaches, and according to expedition leader Chris Fischer, this should not be a cause for fear, but excitement.
“Not only will this expedition benefit New York in terms of helping change the perception of sharks from that of fear to one of curiosity and fascination, but it will allow the rest of the world to follow along on the Global Shark Tracker and learn about sharks at the same time as our scientists,” Fischer said. “The data coming from these sharks will help us understand the ecosystem off New York and manage the area toward a balanced abundant future.”
The expedition, supported by Costa Sunglasses, is scheduled to take place August 11 through August 29, 2016. “At Costa, we believe in supporting research missions like OCEARCH to help better inform sport fishing policies and procedures with real scientific data,” said Al Perkinson, Vice President of Marketing for Costa. “The more we know and understand shark species, the more efforts we can put in place to help protect them.”
Anyone and everyone can follow the OCEARCH expedition 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.