Wave Glider Deployed to Help Track White Sharks

Issue 22, December 2012


Researchers Corner: Wave Glider Deployed to Help Track White Sharks


Dr. Barbara Block of Stanford University Marine Sciences and her team have deployed a self-propelled, solar-powered wave glider equipped with a VEMCO acoustic receiver – the latest addition to an arsenal of ocean observing technologies which reveals in real time the travels of great white sharks and other marine creatures.

The wave glider, which complements a network of data receivers on fixed buoys currently deployed off the west coast of California, will pick up signals from VEMCO acoustic tags on animals passing within 1,000 feet and transmit the data to a research team on shore.

The long-lasting, relatively inexpensive acoustic tags and the local array of both fixed and mobile ocean transmitters will fine tune 12 years of insights gleaned from satellite-connected tags used to follow thousands of animals throughout their entire Pacific journeys.

The technology is central to Dr. Block’s “Blue Serengeti Initiative,” which builds on the Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) project, part of the international Census of Marine Life (2000-2010).

The public can also follow the tracking of animals in real time on a smartphone and tablet app. “Shark Net,” a new iOS app available free of charge from the Apple app store, was created by Dr. Block and her colleagues with developers from TOPP, EarthNC and Gaia GPS. The Shark Net app enables a direct, personal connection between the public and wild marine animals and to raise public awareness of marine life off North America’s West Coast.

“Our goal is to use revolutionary technology that increases our capacity to observe our oceans and census populations, improve fisheries management models, and monitor animal responses to climate change,” says Dr. Block.

Read the complete press release here.

Photo credit: Kip Evans

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