Skip to comments.East Coast white Shark Tagging Info
Posted on 01/24/2013 7:23:10 AM PST by Capt. Tom
Updated - January 22, 2013 by Freeper Capt. Tom
Since 2009, the Massachusetts Div. Marine Fisheries, has tagged 34 white sharks at Chatham, Mass. Presently the State is out of tags and tag money for white sharks. It's expensive. The tags are about $4,500, plus you need to hire a boat, and a spotter plane. The State has used different types of tags, which yield data after months have passed. The State hasn't been using spot tags.
Chris Fischer on the "Ocearch" platform boat, came up here to Chatham Mass., the end of last summer and tagged 2 white sharks in mid-September using both spot tags, and acoustic tags. With the present battery life of these shark tags, they could give reliable results for years.
A spot tag, is a different type of tag than the State uses. The spot tag gives the Lat/Lon of the shark when its dorsal fin breaks the surface of the water. So you get immediate knowledge of where and when the shark is swimming on the surface. You don't have to wait months to find out where the shark was. (Unless it stays down below the surface) The State tags get more data on salinity, depth, water temp etc. but you have to wait months for the information. The acoustic tags in these two white sharks will send a signal that can be picked up by hydrophones strategicaly placed in the ocean along the coast, if the shark passes close enough to these receivers.- roughly within 1,000 feet.
The two white sharks that were tagged by Chris Fischer were named Genie (after Dr. Eugenie Clark) and Mary Lee (after Chris Fischer's mother) A friend of mine was onboard for the tagging of Mary Lee and told me it turns out that Mary Lee is a great shark for a spot tag because it spends more time on the surface than most of the other whites. Mary Lee seemed to have broken the surface on a daily basis on her trip south to Florida from Chatham, Mass. -according to her tracking records.
Genie on the other hand, on its trip from Chatham, Mass. to Florida went down off Chatham, Mass on Sept. 22 and didn't go to the surface until December 9th off Savanna, Georgia.
On the East Coast there is data on how the whites travel south; but not much on how they travel north. This type of tagging by Chris Fischer should really help in getting that knowledge. It is more difficult down off Florida to tag whites because they don't have a seal colony like Chatham Mass. to focus the sharks into a certain area where they can be tagged in shallow water.
We usually don't expect whites in the Mass. area until May-June. I notice the recent track of Mary Lee shows she is moving north now from Florida, and as of Jan 22, she is off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. It is unlikely Mary Lee would make a direct swimback to Chatham Mass. as that would put her here in February. A move back south, and/or a long stop at the East side of Long Island NY on the way back would be a reasonable expectation. With today's technology we will know what she does.
Fischer has an interactive website where you can follow the tracks of white sharks around the world. You can visit it here
If that link don't work try typing in http://sharks-ocearch.verite.com/ -Tom
How does one actually tag a white shark? Is a rod and reel used?
Why spend all that keeping track of vermin? Is the northeast seal population in that much need of thinning?
There are several ways.
The State of Mass. hires a spotter plane to locate the shark, Then a hired harpoon boat is directed to the shark by the airplane pilot. The tag is placed on the tip of a specialized harpoon pole. The harpoon boat comes up behind the shark and the tag anchor dart is jammed into the shark. the shark swims off with he tag, and the harpoon pole is retrieved.
Chis Fischer on the Ocearch a large vessel, uses a hook and bait to hook the shark ,the shark is then pulled back over the submerged platform. They can also Pull the shark onto the platform by using a small boat. The platform is raised slightly out of the water with the shark on it. The crew places a hose in the mouth of the shark to keep water on its gills - blood is taken and a spot tag is bolted to the dorsal fin. The platform is then submerged and the shark swims off. -Tom
It was not uncommon to catch a White Shark off the east coast of Florida, usually in late fall or winter when the water temp offshore was in the 60’s. Most that I caught and know of were young (2 year olds), The gear used would not stand up to the bigger ones.
Because of protection from the Fed Govt. the seal population has gone from a few dozen Grey Seals to about 6,000. That's right six thousand. The seals eat a lot of fish and the local commercial fishermen are upset.
People in Chatham were thinking about hiring Inuit Indians to kill the seals, but the Feds probably won't let Inuits kill these seals because it is not part of their traditional life style.
So now other ideas are being hashed about like loud speakers to drive the seals away.
This will only move the problem somewhere else. For the first time a friend of mine who lives in Plymouth Mass. has seen Grey Seals last month in his area. I bluefish over at Provincetown and for the first time last year we had to quit because of Grey Seals attacking the hooked bluefish. So you end up fighting a 400 lb seal on a light spinning rod. There were some shore places on Cape Cod that were great for surf fishing. No moe. The seals wait for a hookup and attack the hooked striper or bluefish. -tom
Provincetown night life entertainers would fill the sharks for a while until you moved the poor seals.
If you fish that area, you may know Eric Sander. Many years ago he told me about the white sharks being there in the winter,
So when the first white shark tags came off the Chatham Mass. whites I was asked to guess where the tags released.
I said off St Augustine or Jacksonville Fla. they were surprised I was on target but Eric had told me years before, about caching whites in the winter here. - Tom
Something similar happened in California when the government began protecting sea otters, which had been driven to near-extinction. They also eat a lot of fish and shell fish. By the 1980's, sea otters had grown so numerous that the abalone and other shell fish--once abundant--became practically non-existent along the coast of Monterey County, and fisheries were also adversely affected.
California also has a Sea Lion problem where they climb aboard moored boats and sink them. Male Sea Lions can weigh 1500 lbs.
Our Grey seal males go about 500 lbs, it is only a matter of time until they move to areas that have moored boats that we will find out if like the California Sea Lions they want to climb onboard.
For now the Chatham seal Colony has brought whites into shallow water with has a sandy bottom which makes aerial spotting of the cruising shark much easier. Chatham has become a white shark taggers paradise. - Tom
Love FR; learn something new every day!
Sounds like time for some seal harvesting!
It has gotten so out of control now even if they got the go ahead to kill the seals there is a problem with disposing of the bodies.
Americans don't eat seal meat so its not like you could truck the seals to market and sell them. If you dump the dead seals in the ocean this could make more shark problems. If you disperse the seals the problem starts anew elsewhere.
Outside of lobsters, Man doesn't have a good record of managing the sea.- Tom
But it must be a staple or a delicacy somewhere! Like the giant Bluefins they catch on Wicked Tuna, the market for which is in Japan.
We see those Wicked Tuna Guys when we are out fishing. Beside tuna fishing in the same areas with us, they also do other charters like cod /Haddock.
I see white shark Mary Lee is now off Virginia Beach, East of Norfolk Virginia. A white shark can easily go a month between feeding so they can move away from the area they have had a successful lunch. -Tom
“When combined with an unknown number of immigrants from Canada, Muskeget’s pup production helped boost the gray seal numbers on the Cape and Islands from 5,611 adults in 1999 to 15,756 in 2011.
That number could be a conservative estimate as a percentage of seals are in the water and undetectable by aerial surveys.” - CapeCodOnline
Muskeget is about a 25 mile swim from the seal colony at Chatham.
Cape Cod is in for an interesting 2013 summer, as the towns on Cape Cod figure out what to do about the seals/White sharks/tourists and swimmers.
I hear the Towns are doing some planning right now. -Tom
Apparently, the lag between ingestion and effect was not considered. Dead birds began dropping out of the sky all over town. The scene looked like the movie “The Birds: the Revenge.”
As another thought-The towns are legally protected from lawsuits involving shark attacks.
However the towns must make sure none of their employees imply there are no sharks in this area, and it is safe to go into the water. That may also apply to Mass. Bay this summer. -tom
She entered colder water off Cape Hatteras but stayed in it and continued northward to Long Is. NY, then went east passing about 55 miles south of Martha's Vineyad.
Right now (Feb.4th) she is on the edge of the continental shelf about 220 miles east of Nantucket Is. and 125 mi South of Nova Scotia.
I have maintained for a long time, whites are cool water sharks and cold water sharks if they want to be. So I am glad Mary Lee voluntarily leaves the warmer water to the other white sharks and is up here with us in the winter.
She moves along about 2.5 kts so she can cover a lot of distance, on a daily basis.
We usually don't see whites at Chatham Mass.until he Spring/summer/fall so Mary Lee can cover a lot of ocean territory before then. If, in fact she decides to return to Chatham Mass. for some seal meals.
That's what taggings all about; to show us what we don't know.
Follow her travels at http://sharks-ocearch.verite.com/ - Tom