A shortfin mako shark and a blue marlin, both tagged by scientists this spring with expensive satellite tags, found their way onto fishing boats as catches in September.
The loss of tagged fish and the data they were providing is a concern for researchers, who not only lose the animal and important information it was transmitting or collecting but the equipment, which in some cases can cost up to $4,000 per tag.
One oceanographic research team in South Florida, for example, has lost seven satellite transmitter tagged sharks to fishing in the last two years, representing over 20 percent of the sharks they were tracking.
“We’re asking fishermen, who catch a tagged animal to do one of two things. If it’s alive and healthy, please release the animal as quickly as possible so it can continue its travels and provide important scientific data. If it is dead, please retrieve the tag and return if possible,” said Dr. Mahmood Shivji, the director of Nova Southeastern University’s Guy Harvey Research Institute and Save Our Seas Shark Research Center.
The public can follow their movements in near real-time courtesy of an interactive website set-up by GHRI www.ghritracking.org.
The website is an educational outreach component of the institute’s quest to study shark and billfish long-distance migration patterns, with the ultimate goal being to better understand and protect them, as some species are threatened or endangered.