How to Track a Shark

by Daegan Miller, University of Massachusetts Amherst
April 5, 2022

An international team of researchers, led by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has compiled a massive dataset that overlays years’ worth of information on the position, migration and interaction of sharks and game fish. This research has immediate relevance for anglers, who have been reporting increased contact with sharks over the years. The research, recently published in Ecological Applications and which relies on an innovative use of acoustic telemetry and machine learning, gives us the clearest window yet into complex ecological relationships and promises to be a useful tool in ongoing conservation efforts.

“It’s so rare to observe multi-species interaction in the ocean,” says Lucas Griffin, the paper’s co-lead author and a postdoctoral researcher in environmental conservation at UMass Amherst. That’s because species such as the ones the researchers focused on – great hammerhead and bull sharks, permit and Atlantic tarpon – can range over hundreds of square miles of open ocean. There has long been anecdotal evidence from the game-fishing community that instances of depredation – when a shark eats a fish that has been hooked – are on the rise, but to date there’s been no hard data to support whether or not such encounters are indeed increasing and, if so, why.

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Read the Ecological Applications paper: