Tagged Mako Shark Breaks Travel Distance Record

Posted: Jan 30 2017, 12:16pm CST | by , Updated: Jan 30 2017, 9:12pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
Tagged Mako Shark Breaks Travel Distance Record
Credit: Guy Harvey Research Institute

A male mako shark swam more than 13,000 miles, equal to over halfway around the planet, within just two years.

A mako shark has broken the record for longest distance by travelling more than 13,000 miles within just two years. This is equivalent to covering halfway around the globe in 600 days.

Nicknamed Hell’s Bay, the shark is a male mako and is primarily found in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. No other tagged shark in the Atlantic Ocean has recorded that much time to date.

“We've had some of our tagged makos take some pretty interesting tracks over the years, but this one swims above the rest," said Mahmood Shivji from Nova Southeastern University's Guy Harvey Research Institute.

“Having Hell’s Bay report for as long as he has is fantastic because we're able to really get a detailed look at mako migration behavior over a good amount of time. He was like the Energizer Bunny – he kept going and going and going, and luckily did not get captured like many of our other sharks.”

Hell’s Bay is among more than 40 mako sharks that had been tagged by researchers off the coast of Maryland back in May 2015. In the first year, it swam north along the coastline and then returned close to the tagging site. It spent next year hanging around the coast of Maryland, visiting the waters off east of Nova Scotia to just south of Bermuda before returning to Ocean City.

The satellite tagging project was originally intended to study the migratory patterns of mako sharks and results also showed that there is a clear seasonal pattern to their movements. For instance, Hell’s Bay spends winter and early spring far offshore, and the rest of the year close to the continental shelf.

"These satellite tags allow us to follow sharks in near-real time. Understanding where these animals travel and the habitat that they use is the first step to better conserving the species.” Greg Jacoski, executive director of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation that provided the funds for the research said.

Shortfin mako shark is a fast-speed swimming shark that has been called the cheetahs of the shark species. The shark species can swim up to 60 miles per hour.

The ongoing research also confirms that 22% of makos that have been tagged with sensors were either caught or killed by fisherman, painting a potentially grim picture of their future.

"That highlights what mako sharks face on a daily basis in their natural habitat," said Shivji. "It's something we have to work around, but every time we lose a shark we lose another opportunity to learn about these magnificent animals."

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