Shark Research Tests New Technologies


Shark Research Tests New Technologies

The Shark Research Group from the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) is testing two innovative technologies to better understand shark behavior and habitat selection.

Tiger sharks were recently equipped with the latest generation of satellite tags in Hawaiian waters. These tags not only track the shark’s location, but also record important oceanographic data, such as ocean temperature and oxygen profiles, and sea surface temperature. PacIOOS is now featuring all location tracks online. Temperature profile data will be made available through the Animal Telemetry Network Data Assembly Center. This is the first example of using “sharks as oceanographers.”

The second technology that is being tested relates to data transmission from the satellite tags. In the past, data from tagged sharks were routed solely through orbiting Argos satellites, which have limited coverage over Hawaiʻi (6-12 minutes per hour). Land-based receivers were installed at high elevations around Maui and Oʻahu to augment the satellite array and increase data throughput from fin-mounted tags.

Land-based receiver

Land-based receiver at Camp Pālehua on Gill Ewa Lands, Oʻahu.

The most recent addition was installed at a height of 515 meters at Camp Pālehua on Gill Ewa Lands above Makakilo and has a detection range of about 80 km offshore. Importantly, this receiver will detect transmissions made from the Kaiwi Channel and Penguin Banks, which are areas of significant interest in terms of both oceanography and biology. Analysis of performance so far indicates that when a shark surfaces within range of a land-based receiver, 100% of transmitted messages are successfully received.

PacIOOS provides ongoing support for the Shark Research Group and the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) is currently supporting efforts as part of the Ocean Technology Transition (OTT) Project.

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PacIOOS is the first regional association that was certified as a Regional Information Coordination Entity (RICE) by the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). Certification provides NOAA and its interagency partners a means to verify that a regional association’s organizational and operational practices, including data management, meet recognized and established standards set by NOAA.