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Tina the Tiger on Top of the World

By Mauvis Gore, 9th December 2010

Well, on top of the ocean anyway. Great excitement among the team. Our tiger shark that we satellite tagged on Saturday (provisionally nick-named TINA) has already been picked up by the satellite network 3 times, on each occasion within several km of the original tagging site. This is great news because it means firstly that the satellite tag is functioning properly (not something to be taken for granted), and secondly that Tina appears to be well and moving around in fairly normal fashion.

That we have picked up signals from Tina’s tag this soon is actually a big but welcome surprise. The more commonly used pop-off satellite tags, such as we have used on basking shark, only reveal their position when months later they come off the shark and float to the surface. However thanks to our collaboration with the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation the tag we kitted out Tina with is a SPOT tag that actually detects its position by GPS whenever the tag’s aerial emerges above the surface of the ocean. Not just emerges above the surface, but stays there long enough for the aerial to dry off and the tag to detect the GPS satellite network and calculate its position. So indeed Tina has been on top of the ocean, with fin exposed, for perhaps a minute or two, on at least three occasions! One likely explanation is that she has been entering shallow water to search for prey such as the rays and turtles on which they often feed.

What will she do next – we wait with baited breath!

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