OCEARCH: 'We are going to solve the puzzle of Jaws' - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

OCEARCH: 'We are going to solve the puzzle of Jaws'

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Scientists were busy during Lydia's tagging (Courtesy: OCEARCH) Scientists were busy during Lydia's tagging (Courtesy: OCEARCH)

By Sonya Stevens
sstevens@abcnews4.com

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) – March 3 was a day that went down in the history books as the day the first Great White shark was tagged and released off the Southeast coast.

It takes a hard-working team with experienced fishermen and passionate scientists to pull off expeditions like this one which help OCEARCH learn more about the white sharks.

"We just don't know much and our massive knowledge gaps in these apex predators that we must overcome if we are going to insure they have a future which really dictates what kind of future the whole ocean is going to have, so yeah it's unfolding every day," said Chris Fischer, Founding Chairman of OCEARCH.

And every day, scientists are analyzing the data from the tagging including current information from the tracker and the accelerometer.

"Right out of the gate it's like 'Wow, look how much of the Atlantic Ocean they are using. Wow, we didn't know they could live in cold water as long as they have done,'" said Fischer. "It's questioning all their physiological capabilities and the range that they operate in because we just didn't know before."

Something else that is vital to understanding these sharks is their mating habits, which they are hoping Lydia can shed some light over the next several months.

GALLERY: Great white is 'blowing our minds'

"Most likely we'll learn a lot about Lydia's summer range because Lydia we believe is not pregnant. We gave her an ultrasound and it did not appear that she was pregnant, so if I had to make a guess, which I just said I wouldn't do, I would guess that she would go to the Northeast and she'll swim around in the coastal waters there hopefully trying to find a mate," said Fischer.

But to learn more, scientists need more data, which means more tagged sharks.

"They need a certain number of sharks to be able to draw statistical conclusions to solve the puzzle of where are they giving birth and where are they breeding and right now they are kind of pushing us to give them more tagged sharks, so they can do their work and execute the science," said Fischer.

An ideal sample size would be around 10, hopefully a mix of males and females.

"There is big part in their life we call sexual segregation," said Fischer. "They don't live together all the time, so if you find a spot where they are coming together, you might be on to something. So we need to catch those male white sharks."

That is why they have two expeditions coming up in the Atlantic, so they can continue their quest.

"We are going to solve the puzzle of Jaws," said Fischer. "We are going to solve the puzzle of the Northeast Great White shark."

And OCEARCH will continue to piece together that puzzle one shark at a time.

You can keep up with Lydia, Mary Lee, Genie in addition to other tagged sharks around the world here.

OCEARCH is also in the process of broadening the tracker so you can track birds, turtles, and whales as well to see how their lives come together with the sharks.


  • Sonya Stevens

    Email: sstevens@abcnews4.com Reporter Profile




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