OCEARCH Partners with NC Aquariums for Shark Expedition (6/13/16)
June 13, 2016
Pine Knoll Shores, N.C. - OCEARCH is bringing its unique shark platform and research vessel to North Carolina for its first Sand Tiger Shark Expedition. The recognized global leader in shark research has partnered with the North Carolina Aquariums to implant acoustic tags in up to 30 sharks.
“This expedition is about delivering previously unattainable data to researchers and conservation managers, through acoustic tags, so they have the science they need for the proper management of Sand Tiger Sharks,” said Chris Fischer, OCEARCH Founding Chairman and Expedition Leader.
“Successful conservation of sand tiger populations firstly depends on better understanding on biology and secondly on management of critical habitat,” said Madeline Marens, lead scientist and Aquarist with the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.
The goal of the expedition is to ultimately track mature female sharks to define their residency time in North Carolina waters and identify essential habitats such as breeding, gestation and pupping grounds. Identifying these critical reproductive habitats is important for conservation management purposes. “Comparing habitat use of pregnant and non-pregnant mature females may highlight target reproductive areas for proper management and directly benefit the sand tiger Mid-Atlantic population,” added Marens.
As part of OCEARCH’s mission to build collaborative and real-time research, the expedition will include scientists from SeaWorld, North Carolina Aquariums, Florida Aquarium, Southeast Zoo Alliance for Reproductive Conservation, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, and the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
“This is our first time operating off North Carolina. We’re excited to partner with the North Carolina Aquariums and SeaWorld in their long-term commitment to shark research and conservation,” said Fischer.
The expedition begins on June 15 and ends on June 23, 2016. Follow the expedition on social media using the hashtag #ExpeditionNC.
OCEARCH is a recognized world leader in generating critical scientific data related to tracking (telemetry) and biological studies of keystone marine species such as great white and tiger sharks, in conjunction with conservation outreach and education at a measurable global scale. OCEARCH shares real-time migration data through OCEARCH’s Global Shark Tracker – In 2015, OCEARCH open sourced the data on the Global Shark Tracker to 2.3 million users.
OCEARCH also inspires current and future generations of explorers, scientists, and stewards of the ocean through its STEM Learning Program. The free STEM Curriculum, available for grades K-8 and created in partnership with Landry’s, Inc. enables students to learn STEM skills while following the real-time data on the movements of their favorite sharks.
The researchers OCEARCH supports work aboard the M/V OCEARCH, a 126’ Cat powered vessel equipped with a 75,000 lb. hydraulic research platform, where the ship serves as both mothership and at-sea laboratory. Scientists have approximately 15 minutes of access to live, mature sharks to conduct up to 12 studies. The sharks are measured, tissue and blood samples are collected, and satellite and acoustic transmitters are attached. Over 113 researchers from 59 regional and international institutions have partnered with OCEARCH.
About The North Carolina Aquariums
The Aquariums were established in 1976 to promote an awareness, understanding, appreciation and conservation of the diverse natural and cultural resources of North Carolina's ocean, estuaries, rivers, streams and other aquatic environments.
The North Carolina Aquariums Division, under the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, operates the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores and also the North Carolina Aquariums at Fort Fisher and on Roanoke Island, and Jennette's Pier.