National Geographic’s Expedition Great White series premiere tonight

National Geographic’s Expedition Great White premieres tonight at 9pm on the National Geographic Channel. However, you don’t have to wait tonight to get a sneak peek. National Geographic has made the episode “First Bites” available on Expedition Great White YouTube page (the episode is embedded below).

Expedition Great White focuses on a research team, headed by researcher Dr. Michael Domeier, whose goal is to gather tracking data on great white sharks at Isla de Guadalupe (filmed in the fall of 2008). Domeier’s team uses a catch-and-release technique to SPOT (Smart Position or Temperature Transmitting) tag great white sharks in order to provide researchers with real-time tracking information. After hooking and bringing in a white shark using a rod and reel, the shark is then brought onto a platform and raised out of the water in order to have a satellite tag attached to the shark’s dorsal fin. In addition to attaching the SPOT tag to the white shark, samples were also taken from the shark for research efforts.

Unlike traditional pop-up tags that report data after detaching from the shark and surfacing, the tags that Domeier’s team uses in Expedition Great White reports real-time data whenever a tagged white shark surfaces. The tags are expected to be able to transmit for six years.

Domeier’s catch and release method drew some criticism last year after an incident at the Farallon Islands, in which a hook was stuck in the mouth of a captured great white shark, requiring that the hook be cut with part of the left stuck in the shark’s mouth. However, Domeier’s team has since reported that the shark’s tag is still reporting data, and the shark is in good health.

While elements of Domeier’s methods may seem questionable to some, the results of his efforts in terms of producing real-time data could prove invaluable in terms of gaining knowledge about white shark behavior. Personally, I can find merit with both sides of the argument. I expect that the airing of the Great White Expedition series will drum up the debate once, again, and it will likely bring up interesting arguments both for and against Domeier’s techniques.

Updated tracking data from Domeier’s tagging efforts can be viewed at MarineCSI.org (click on the small map image for a larger view).

5 comments

  1. The reports I reviewed indicated that the over-sized barbed hook was left lodged in the throat of the shark causing significant injury to the animal and the invasive effort retreated from the ostensible wildlife reserve (SE Farallones). That the method employed involved hooking and hauling the sharks out of the water is confounding also by the fact that this ‘reality TV’ show-effort took place within a supposed marine sanctuary and white sharks are a protected species in California; moreover there is already a long term monitoring study being conducted by resident researchers that renders the ‘science’ of the Domeier ‘expedition’ duplicative, redundant and interdictive. Furthermore, the program overall is riddled with speculation, innuendo and erroneous assertions involving everything from misidentified jumbo squid and shark behavior. The methods involving hook and line is huge leap backward for white shark conservation and research.

    Cordially,
    Sean R. Van Sommeran
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation

  2. Woke up to Nat Geo and was mesmerized on the expedition and so impressed with the teamwork, compassion for the shark and professionalism! Just awesome what you are doing! Need an extra Photographer? Give me a call, would love to capture your work – Great work guys!

  3. Hey guys. Jim from Albany N.Y . Love the show . The work you guys are doing is great! I hope we could achive geting some laws in affect to protect the sharks while in the sea of cortez . and by the way how is Amy ? I have been hopeing she will get out of there unharmed . Love to here how she is doing . ok fellas have fun and be safe out there.and again thank you for all you have done and continue to do to shed some lite on the life of the great white shark. GREAT WORK!!

  4. Mallory says:

    I think the work you guys are doing is great! People are just trying to find flaws in your method but I don’t see them trying to get these beautiful creatures protected! It looks to me that the so called injury the shark sustained was not actually from you but from other things ( maybe a killer whale or even a bigger great white) in the ocean. I think the work you guys do is amazing and you should know there are people that are proud of you all, don’t let the actions of a handful of individuals if anything you all proved how much you respect these animals when one of the members put his hands throw the gill of the shark and got as much as the hook out as he could and in doing so he got an infection. You go guys keep up the good work!

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