Greg Skomal, whose work has been sponsored by Save Our Seas Foundation, has been featured in a New York Times article on great white tagging and tracking off Cape Code, Mass. Speaking about the expedition’s tagging methods, which involve removing the shark from the water into a cradle, he noted:
“[The Ocearch] vessel is one of the only platforms that gives scientists unprecedented access to the great fish,” he said. “Any time you capture a fish by any methodology, you’re going to expose it to some level of stress. But we try to minimize that.”
He said he took this opportunity to study the sharks’ stress levels when they are “exposed to this level of handling.” Through blood samples, he said, “we saw clear evidence that the animals were undergoing physiological stress.” He said he could not tell how bad it was because there was no point of comparison.
But through an instrument called an accelerometer — similar to a “black box” in an airplane that was attached to the sharks for several hours — he could follow their behavior after they were released and see if they were lying on the ocean bottom, how fast they were swimming and the beats of their tails. This was the first time accelerometers have been attached to sharks.
“There’s a recovery period the shark goes through,” Dr. Skomal said. “It swims slowly, it is an exhausted fish, but it picks up its pace and becomes more active. And it appears to be perfectly normal.”
The public can track sharks tagged during the expedition via the OCEARCH site here.