Sharks Could Be Forecasting Hurricanes Soon

Categories: Animal Planet

I say shark.jpg
Sharks are apparently going to be replacing weathermen soon, because according to this report, hundreds of them have been tagged with special satellite links that scientists are hoping will be forecasting information of oncoming hurricanes.

Scientists at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science began tagging tarpon back in 2001, and then did the same to sharks starting in 2010 namely to learn about migration, and feeding patterns.

But soon they figured out that the fish began swimming around waters that were at 79 degrees any time there was a tropical system on the horizon.

Other sharks, meanwhile, began swimming into the tropical systems because the weather patterns would churn up more food. Also, because sharks are pretty badass.

When this started happening, scientists had their V-8 moment and realized that this behavior could help them forecast tropical systems and hurricanes.

A signal could be beamed up from the sharks to a satellite, which would send the data to places like the National Hurricane Center. Tags could be detached from the fish and sharks and float to the surface, as well.

But, according to the Sun-Sentinel, the Hurricane Center was, at first, not sold on the idea. They figured the project would take thousands of fish swimming in all different parts of the tropics.

But scientists at UM are sure that it could work, and are trying to secure funding from private and government sources.

The UM scientists also say that using fish would be less expensive.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration use underwater drones to forecast hurricanes called gliders. These gliders cost about $200,000 a pop, while the scientists say that fish would only cost $4,000.

And not only that, but gliders only move towards the current, where fish and sharks could provide a better, quicker forecast, according to the UM scientists.

Nick Shay, a professor of meteorology and oceanography at UM cites a couple of cases where big fish swim at and under storms, which proves that the fish could provide a valuable surface.

From the Sun-Sentinel:

The tag data shows many fish followed a temperature trail where the water was 79 degrees and sometimes swam directly into the paths of storms, Shay said.

For instance, a Blue Marlin in September 2004 swam under Hurricane Ivan in the Gulf of Mexico. A tarpon did the same thing with Hurricane Katrina the following season.

"It became really clear with the Ivan case how valuable this information could be," Shay said.

So, can sharks be the key to forecasting future hurricanes?

The UM scientists think so.

We're not so convinced. Since Florida recently was named the shark attack capitol of the world, who's to say that sharks would send up bad information?

We're on to you, sharks!

Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph.
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