Understanding Shark Infested Water – Florida Sea Grant – Nexus Vista

Zeke Tuszynski is a grasp’s scholar within the Organic Sciences Division at Florida Atlantic College. Zeke was awarded a Man Harvey Scholarship in 2023.

Since people first started dwelling close to the ocean, sharks have left a potent impression on our collective minds. Over the millennia, they’ve impressed emotions starting from concern to reverence. I’ve seen these animals many occasions on scuba and boating journeys; every encounter has crammed me with a way of surprise. I grew fascinated by the huge oceanic voyages many of those animals make. Decided to be taught extra, I took my first steps into marine biology. 

Zeke Tuszynski deploying a satellite tv for pc tag on a captured blacktip shark. Picture by Dr. Stephen Kajiura.

Throughout my undergraduate research on the College of California, Santa Barbara, I had the chance to work with a NOAA analysis group on the NWFSC Maine Area Station.  We used echosounders, a expertise that may detect fish underwater utilizing sound waves, to map the altering distribution of fish in Maine’s Penobscot River Estuary. After acquiring my bachelor’s, I interned at
Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Starion the place I bought to look after captive tunas. It was right here that I additionally realized the programming abilities scientists use to trace animals corresponding to sharks. 

Becoming a member of the grasp’s program at Florida Atlantic College has introduced me nearer to those animals than ever earlier than. Whereas working in Dr. Stephen Kajiura’s lab, I got here nose to nose with 11 totally different shark species. Among the many most memorable encounters have been a number of giant nice hammerheads and an enormous feminine tiger shark.

It was additionally right here that I started my thesis analysis on the blacktip shark. Every year, these fish collect off the South Florida coast in 1000’s. They continue to be right here from January by March. As April approaches, they migrate in direction of Georgia and the Carolinas the place they spend their summer season. Whereas we all know the place these sharks journey, much less is thought about how the setting influences this migration. I’m interested by how far offshore these animals journey. I additionally wish to know what seasonal modifications drive this migration annually. 

To collect information on Florida’s coastal sharks, my lab mates and I search for them off the coast of Palm Seaside. It was definitely not the analysis web site I had envisioned: we fish for sharks with mansions and luxurious condominiums as a backdrop. The animals we search may be discovered mere yards away from the pristine white seashores. We catch these animals on drumline fishing gear, which consists of a line connected to a concrete weight, a marker buoy, and a baited circle hook. As soon as hooked, sharks are hauled subsequent to the boat by hand, which is not any simple job in case you have a 10-foot tiger shark on the road!  We file every animal’s species, size, and intercourse. We additionally connect a small plastic identification tag to the animal earlier than launch. Ought to the shark be captured once more, this tag will tell us how far the animal traveled.

Blacktip sharks additionally obtain a satellite tv for pc tag, which attaches to the animal’s dorsal fin. Each time the fin breaks the floor, the tag’s onboard transmitter will talk with an array of satellites, giving us the shark’s location. The tag additionally accommodates sensors that inform us what proportion of the time the shark spent in waters of various temperatures. The tag will transmit till the onboard battery runs dry and the nuts holding it in place rust off, permitting the shark to discard the system. 

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