Shark Tagging Projects

Tagging sharks and rays is a powerful tool to learn more about the migration patterns of these vulnerable species in relation to environmental factors. More and more researches, anglers and volunteers start attaching location tags to these marine animals which will provide valuable information on their movement, abundance, age and growth. The aim is to provide a better understanding of sharks and rays in order to improve their conservation status and facilitate sustainable management.

A number of different tagging projects in various countries are summarized below. If you would like to have other projects featured here as well please contact us at sharks@cms.int and we are happy to add more tagging projects to the list.

 

Project Name:

Basking Shark Tagging Project

photo credit: Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs via photopin cc

Monitored Species: 

Basking Shark

Organization:

Scottish Natural Heritage, University of Exeter  

Location:

Scotland

Founded in:

2012

Project Description:

Scottish Natural Heritage and the University of Exeter have tagged 20 basking sharks off Scotland's west coast with two different types of tags. One type, the surface location tag, allows displaying near-to-real time movements of sharks. Currently eight sharks' movements are being monitored with the surface location tag. The other type, a long-term tag, is also collecting data on movements of sharks during the winter, including how deep they swim. This tag will provide information in Spring 2013. With this project the Scottish Natural Heritage aims to get information on how long basking sharks remain feeding in certain areas off Scotland’s coasts, whether Scottish waters are potential breeding grounds, and where basking sharks go after their summer feeding in Scotland's seas.

 

Project Name

Shark Tagging Project

photo credit: Wendell Reed via photopin cc

Monitored Species 

Scalloped Hammerheads and Galapagos Sharks

Organization

UC Davis and Turtle Island Restoration Network, Charles Darwin Research Station, Malpelo Foundation, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Pretoma, Stanford-University

Location

Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica to Ecuador

Founded in

2006

Project Description

Working across borders, a collaborative shark-tagging project in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean enables scientists to collect much-needed data in a region where sharks still swim in abundance. Scientists track scalloped hammerheads and Galapagos sharks from Costa Rica to Ecuador. They do so by attaching satellite and acoustic tags to these species in order to learn more about their movements in relation to environmental factors. Their aim is to provide decision-makers with solid science about these species. By studying their migration routes, researchers can get a better idea of where to focus conservation plans, policy pushes, and resources in order to maximize efforts to keep sharks safe.

 

Project Name

Cooperative Shark Tagging Program (CSTP)

photo credit: WIlly Volk via photopin cc

Monitored Species 

Atlantic sharks

Organization

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)

Location

Atlantic and Gulf coast of North America and Europe

Founded in

1962

Project Description

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Cooperative Shark Tagging Program (CSTP) is a collaborative effort between recreational anglers, the commercial fishing industry, and NMFS to study the life history of Atlantic Sharks. The CSTP was initiated in 1962 with an initial group of less than a hundred helpers and has expanded in subsequent years to include thousands of volunteers. Within more than 50 years over 221,000 sharks of 52 species have been tagged. Travelling distances of individual sharks ranged from no movement at all to 3,997 nautical miles (blue shark). The longest time at liberty for any shark in the CSTP is 27.8 years (sandbar shark). Data from tagging programs, such as the NMFS CSTP, provide valuable information on stock identity, movements and migration (including rates and routes), abundance, age and growth, mortality, and behavior.

 

Project Name

Galapagos Whale Shark Project (GWSP)

photo credit: Doug Pieper via photopin cc

Monitored Species 

Whale Shark

Organization

Galapagos National Park, Charles Darwin Foundation, The Rapier Family Foundation, University of California at Davis, Conservation International

Location

Ecuador

Founded in

1999

Project Description

The Galapagos Whale Shark Project (GWSP) will provide information on population structure, site fidelity and seasonal movements of whale sharks in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. By using satellite tagging technology and photo identification to determine the characteristics of the Galapagos whale shark population, they hope to identify long-term migratory movements.  GWSP aims to raise awareness of the importance of whale sharks to the integrity of the world's oceans, and by doing so, promote the creation of protected areas on both a regional and global level.

 

Project Name

OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker

photo credit: pterantula via photopin cc

Monitored Species 

Great White Sharks

Organization

OCEARCH

Location

US East Coast, South Africa

Founded in

2010

Project Description

OCEARCH's Global Shark Tracker observes the navigational pattern of great white sharks that have been tagged with satellite tracking technology all for the purpose of shark conservation. OCEARCH aims to obtain information on the reproductive behavior of great white sharks, in terms of where and when they mate and where females give birth to their young. They try to determine the existence and persistence of nursery grounds and observe the behavior of mature females and juveniles. Furthermore, they monitor individual movements as a function of season and life history stage. The unprecedented data enhances the ability to sustainably manage shark populations. Sharing data gathered during their research with the public is core to OCEARCH’s mission.

 

Project Name

Pelagic Shark Tagging Project

photo credit: Ken Bondy via photopin cc

Monitored Species 

Pelagic Sharks, including Basking Sharks, Mako Sharks, White Sharks Benthic Sharks, including the Spiny Dogfish

Organization

Pelagic Shark Research Foundation

Location

Santa Cruz, California

Founded in

1990

Project Description

The mission of Pelagic Shark Research Foundation (PSRF) is to develop and assist projects that contribute to a better understanding of elasmobranchs, in order to improve their conservation and management. PSRF has developed a multifaceted approach to dealing with these issues consisting of research projects and an educational outreach program. PSRF is primarily involved in gathering data on sharks that occur in and around Monterey Bay and San Francisco Bay. Besides providing tagging data important for assessing the abundance, distribution and migratory patterns of sharks, PSRF is researching and contributing to research which documents their behavior, biology and ecology.

 

Project Name

Scottish Shark Tagging Programme (SSTP)

photo credit: Thomas.B.P. via photopin cc

Monitored Species 

Shark and Ray species

Organization

Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network (SSACN)

Location

Scotland

Founded in

2010

Project Description

The objective of the Scottish Shark Tagging Programme (SSTP) is to tag and record data on many of the shark, skate and ray species found within Scottish coastal waters. SSTP aims to show government agencies that sea anglers are a vital part of data gathering and that properly managed sea angling stocks can provide huge socio economic benefits. Furthermore, SSTP are involved in public awareness rising in terms of the need for shark protection and highlight sea anglers conservation efforts.

 

Project Name

Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP)

photo credit: WIlly Volk via photopin cc

Monitored Species 

Great White Shark, Salmon shark, Blue Shark, Shortfin Mako Shark and other marine animals

Organization

NOAA’s Pacific Fisheries Ecosystems Lab, Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Lab, University of California, Santa Cruz’s Long Marine Laboratory

Location

Pacific Ocean

Founded in

2000

Project Description

Several dozen TOPP researchers from eight countries have attached satellite tags to 22 different species of top predators that roam the Pacific Ocean. As of 2007, more than 2,000 marine animals have been tagged that all send back data about their migration routes via a polar-orbiting satellite. The scientists’ vision was that, by following such a diverse group of animals all at the same time, and combining the observations in a common data system, it would be possible to gain new insights into the way the open ocean ecosystem of the North Pacific works. The study demonstrates seasonality in the movements of many species driven by seasonal patterns in ocean conditions. The findings of this study reveal broad patterns of habitat use in the oceans, which will help resource managers and policy makers to more effectively manage populations of marine animals.

 

Project Name

Whale Shark Tagging Project

photo credit: Derek Keats via photopin cc

Monitored Species 

Whale Shark

Organization

Red Sea Research Center

Location

Red Sea and Indian Ocean

Founded in

2011

Project Description

The Whale Shark Tagging Project of the Red Sea Research Center is the world’s largest whale shark tagging programme. For movement ecology studies on whale sharks both acoustic tagging and satellite tagging technologies are used. Previously unknown ‘hotspots’ of whale sharks have been discovered in the Red Sea close to the coast of Saudi Arabia. Acoustic tags transmit high-resolution depth and location data when tagged sharks are within close proximity to the Research Center while satellite tags give large-scale position information from distances as far as the Indian ocean. These studies aim to determine the population demographics of whale sharks in the Red Sea, their site fidelity, and any potential connections with populations outside of the Red Sea.