Professionalism and SPOT tagging of great white sharks

Yesterday, Underwater Thrills: Swimming with Sharks a commentary on the need for standardizing protocols for SPOT (Smart Position and Temperature) tagging of breeding-age great white sharks at Isla de Guadalupe. Accompanying the commentary was the video seen below.

It’s hard to argue with the points made over at the Underwater Thrills blog, after watching the video. The seawater hose that is needed for the shark to continue to breathe is all over the place in the video, instead of in the sharks mouth passing water through its gills. Another apparent major fault seen in this video is the lack of proper support for the shark, listed as weighing over 1,000 kg (2,205 lbs) in the video’s information. The coup de grĂ¢ce for the video occurs when one of the researchers loses balances and ends up flipping off the stern of the research vessel, bouncing off the head of the shark and landing in the water. Fortunately, the individual did not seem to be seriously injured by the fall. The events in this video illustrate the risks to both the humans and the sharks involved in this technique.

While there is little doubt that those involved with SPOT tagging have the intention of helping great white sharks by gaining more knowledge about the species, the risks involved in operations like the one seen in the video seem like they create a potential “more harm than good” scenario. Here’s to hoping that future endeavors involving SPOT tagging can follow a methodology that is safer for both researchers and sharks alike.

One comment

  1. Shark Diver says:

    Thanks Dorsal for the coverage. As an FYI we have officially requested a two year independent monitoring commitment from NOAA in regards to the white shark at the Farallones with 3/4 of the worlds largest circle hook still embedded in its throat.

    They will post the animals data on their site. That is after the full review of the incident and report.

    We’ll see how fast any of it appears.

    While I am all for research with whites, the more I come to understand about this method and the sharks that have vanished over the years the more I am wanting to see an end to this circus.

    I do not subscribe to the whispered notion out there that it is o.k if “one or two animals die” in the process as long as we get the data.

    It seems, at least to me, a very high price for the sharks. I am also aware that at least one of the sharks tagged by the team in this video has never been seen back at the island while another in NZ “stopped transmitting” within weeks.

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