By Stacey Sutton
Katharine, a 14-foot-2-inch great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), was tracked off the coast of the Ocracoke on Saturday.
She is one of the many apex predator sharks being tracked by OCEARCH, an organization that catches sharks all over the world in order to take various measurements and attach data recording devices to their fins before releasing them.
According to their website, www.ocreach.org, the organization collects “data on the movement, biology and health of sharks to protect their future while enhancing public safety and education.”
Katharine was tagged off the coast of Cape Cod, on August 20, 2013. Searching the name “Katharine” in the drop-down list titled ‘SHARKS’ will provide the viewer with a single dot on the detailed world map.
One can also look at the path each shark has taken over a varying length of time. Selecting the option of “PAST YEAR” will show Katharine’s path into Pamlico Sound and her perusal of Swan Quarter on Jan. 10.
Information can be gained by clicking on each dot, which represents the location of the shark’s latest ping from their Smart Position and Temperature (SPOT) tag. A ping is determined when the tagged shark’s dorsal fin breaks the surface of the water and transmits a signal to a satellite overhead.
Katharine’s dot is orange which indicates that her tag transmitted a signal within the past 30 days. Blue dots represent tag transmissions older than 30 days. An informational bubble will appear by clicking on one of the dots that states the shark’s name, date of tagging, gender and general age range. More information, often with more photos, will appear by clicking the ‘View More’ button located inside the pop-up bubble.
According to the website, “Smart Position and Temperature (SPOT) tags are the only devices capable of real-time tracking of fine and broad scale movements. The data can be collected from anywhere in the world where the transmitter breaks the surface long enough to lock in with satellites. SPOT tag data enables the identification of critical areas for highly migratory species such as white sharks including feeding, breeding and nursery areas, migratory pathways and coastal areas where human/shark interaction is possible.”
Research expeditions are conducted worldwide aboard the M/V OCEARCH, which serves as both a mother-ship and at-sea laboratory. Utilizing a custom 75,000-pound capacity hydraulic platform designed to safely lift mature sharks for access by a multi-disciplined research team, up to 12 studies are conducted in approximately 15 minutes on a live mature shark.
The following photos are from the OCREACH website: