Great White Sharks Off Coast of Florida to Be Tracked With Sensors
They've been popping up just miles from different beaches along the Florida coast and have seemed to make our state their top destination around this time of year.
Like snowbirds, but with razor-sharp teeth.
But now, thanks to the University of North Florida, we should be able to track the sharks easier. Shark experts are expected to drop a crapload of sensors into the Atlantic that will announce when a great white is in the area, so that people can totally freak out about it.
The Florida Times-Union is reporting that researchers are planning on placing as many as ten sensors in the Atlantic off the coast of Jacksonville by the end of the month.
The researchers say the sensors won't act so much as a warning device as they'll be a way to track movement and store information and data. So, you'll still have to come here to read about when a great white is hanging out at your beach.
The sensors are programmed to go off whenever a great white that's already been tagged with a tracking device swims within several hundred feet of a sensor. The shark experts will then take whatever data the sensors send to them and then do shark expert-y things with it.
So far, the majority of great whites that have been spotted off the Florida coast have come from eyewitness reports, as well as from the OCEARCH ocean research group, which tags and tracks the animals around the world.
The founder of OCEARCH, Chris Fischer, says he's a fan of these new sensors, telling the Florida Times-Union that he's thrilled of the possibilities and that having them placed so close to shore is a great way of tracking the big fish.
Recent research has shown that great whites spend a lot more time near inlets and beaches than previously believed. Researchers are also finding that the sharks do indeed enjoy coming down to Florida for the winter.
The devices are expected to be dropped into the ocean on buoys within about a mile of the shore. The sensors will be able to track sharks tagged by OCEARCH, as well as around 20 other sharks that have been tagged separately.
Funding for the sensors comes from the Ocean Tracking Network of Canada, as well as a UNF grant for $4,000.
Back in January, OCEARCH had spotted two great whites off the coast of Jacksonville Beach. One of the sharks came in at 3,456 pounds and was 16 feet in length.
There have also been great white sightings by fishermen.
In March, a fisherman and his buddies went looking to hook some grouper off the coast of St. Petersburg and instead nabbed a great white shark.
Then in April, a charter boat was fishing about 180 feet off the Port Everglades Inlet when the anglers snagged themselves a massive, 1,000-pound great white, stretching out at 13.5 feet.
In May, a great white was spotted off the coast of the Florida Keys, and a photographer jumped into the water and started taking pictures of the shark. The photographer was miraculously not eaten.
And then again in July, another great white was spotted off the Keys.
Just a couple of weeks ago, another emerged off the coast of Daytona.