According to a report from OCEARCH.org, a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) has been fitted with a SPOT tag for the first time in history in North Atlantic waters. The OCEARCH team, working with Dr. Greg Skomal (Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries) and Dr. Nick Whitney (Mote Marine Laboratory), successfully tagged a 15-foot (4.5m) female white shark in the waters of Cape Cod. The OCEARCH team is headed up by Chris Fischer who has been featured in the past on National Geographic’s “Shark Men” and “Expedition Great White.”
In addition to tagging, blood samples were also taken from the great white shark, nicknamed “Genie,” before she was released. Dr. Skomal named the white shark after Dr. Eugenie Clark, a pioneer in shark field research and the founding director of what is now the Mote Marine Laboratory.
SPOT tagging has been a controversial topic among some researchers, since the tagging process involves drilling holes through tagged sharks’ dorsal fins to affix the tag, which can stay attached to the shark for years. The tagging method also involves hooking the shark and lifting it out of the water on a platform. The tagging process, along with the sampling of tissue and blood, takes place while the animal is held out of the water on the platform. A hose is used to constantly send seawater through the captured shark’s gills during the process.
Opponents of the tagging method cite that the process is risky and can potentially cause serious injuries to the sharks involved. Supporters of SPOT tagging point out that the tags and tissue samples can help provide valuable data that could be used to help protect the species.