Where They Go, Nobody Knows: Tracking the White Sharks of Guadalupe Island

If you spend any time around the staff of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, then you are likely to hear the term “inspired research”. In fact, that very phrase is included in the stated mission of the GHOF and it serves as the core of our organization. Funding and promoting “inspired research” is what gives the GHOF meaning and purpose – and we take that responsibility to heart.
 Since funding inspired research is one of our primary goals, we are fortunate to be associated with many different conservation and marine science organizations. They are all very worthy, but I don’t think any are more “inspired” than marine scientist Dr. Michael Domeier of the Marine Conservation Science Institute. That’s because Dr. Domeier and his associates are in the practice of corralling giant white sharks (one at a time, though), bolting satellite tags to the sharks’ dorsal fin (doesn’t bother the shark at all), then setting the sharks free – all in the name of science (and without hurting a single crew member – or more importantly, a single shark)! 
Dr. Domeier, in collaboration with the Offield Family Foundation and Chris Fischer’s team of anglers, recently returned from a successful white shark expedition to Guadalupe Island, Mexico, a trip that was funded by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. While at Guadalupe, Fischer and Domeier captured and tagged 7 adult white sharks; three of them being huge females over 16′ long, with the largest weighing between 3,500-4,000 pounds!
The objective of this trip was to capture adult white sharks and attach a new type of satellite transmitter to them, one that allows for long-term, nearly real-time tracking.  The new tags, called SPOT tags, were developed in a partnership between Dr. Domeier and the tag manufacturer, Wildlife Computers. The SPOT tags, which are bolted to the tip of the dorsal fin, give the shark’s position each time the shark’s fin breaks the surface of the water, as long as one of the ARGOS satellites is overhead.
This new tagging technology may allow Domeier and his team to track adult females during the females time away from Guadalupe Island. Although males return to Guadalupe each year, adult females only return every other year, and up till now no one has been able to determine where they go.  The multi-year tracks that Dr. Domeier and his group should obtain from these new tags will put that question to rest! Domeier and his crew are already seeing results – they have been receiving hits and tracking movements for all seven sharks.
Corralling, tagging and freeing a real-life “Jaws” – this is truly “inspired” research. We look forward to receiving future updates from Dr. Domeier on the progress of tracking the majestic – and mysterious – Guadalupe Island white sharks. 



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