Posts Tagged 'shark tagging'

Thoughtful Thursday: 2013 Shark Tagging Re-cap

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Every August, the National Aquarium invites our members and the general public to join us on shark research trips We work with Captain Mark Sampson to collect data from several species of sharks off of our Maryland coastline for a variety of ongoing research projects. Trip participants actively engage in catching the sharks, reeling them in, measuring them once on the boat, and tagging and releasing them. It’s a once-in-a lifetime experience that provides valuable species and population data for several researchers around the country and exciting educational experiences for participants.

Captain Sampson works with several researchers to study the migratory patterns, growth rates, population data and species data of the sharks he catches. Every shark that is brought on board is measured and its sex determined. The data and location is noted and a small piece of dorsal fin is clipped and preserved for DNA analysis. Each shark is also given in injection of oxytetracycline, an antibiotic that stains the vertebrae and provides a baseline for growth data if the shark is ever recaptured. Finally, if the shark is big enough, it is tagged.

This tagging is part of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Cooperative Shark Tagging Program. This program, started in 1962 was developed to provide information on the life histories and migratory patterns of Atlantic sharks. According to NMFS, between 1962-2010, over 221,000 sharks of 52 species have been tagged and more than 13,000 sharks of 33 species have been recaptured. Distances traveled for the 33 species ranged from no movement to 3,997 nautical miles (nm) (blue shark). The longest time at liberty for any shark in the program is 27.8 years (sandbar shark).

Our team took eight trips with Captain Sampson in August and caught 48 sharks total! The species tagged included sandbar, dusky, spinner, Atlantic sharpnose and smooth dogfish.

It’s obvious to anyone that steps aboard his vessel that Captain Sampson has a great respect for these animals and is passionate about conserving shark populations through research and education! If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, check back with us next Spring for our 2014 shark tagging trip dates.

In the meantime, there are several things you can do right now to protect the sharks off our coast and worldwide. Please make sure you are choosing seafood that caught without harming sharks and do your part to help keep our oceans clean.

Hope to see you on the boat next August!

Blog-Header-LauraBankey

Come Learn More About Shark and Ocean Preservation – And How YOU Can Help!

On December 13, we’ll be joining Oceana and the Humane Society in Ocean City, Maryland to host a community meeting on the importance of shark preservation – and how you can help us save them!

Actress January Jones is just one of the many who have spoken out in favor of protecting sharks! Photo via Oceana

Actress January Jones is just one of the many who have spoken out in favor of protecting sharks! Photo via Oceana

Sharks have inhabited this planet for more than 400 million years, historically known as fierce apex predators, this species is now incredibly vulnerable to exploitation. Every year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins. In most cases their fins are cut off at sea while the shark is still alive, and then thrown back into the ocean. Without their fins, sharks cannot swim and quickly die.

Our research team tags sharks off the coast of Ocean City every year to gather data on migration and abundance!

Our research team tags sharks off the coast of Ocean City every year to gather data on migration and abundance!

National Aquarium, along with our partners at Humane Society, Oceana, and the National Wildlife Federation, has been a leading supporter of legislation in the state of Maryland to hinder the market for shark fins by prohibiting their possession and sale. Similar to making the trade of elephant ivory illegal, such legislation would ensure that shark finning and unsustainable fishing practices are not tolerated.

Help us join an international campaign to protect these amazing animals: 

Date: Thursday, December 13, 2012
Time: 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Address:
10003 Coastal Highway
Ocean City, MD 21842
United States

RSVP Here

Thoughtful Thursday: Save our finned friends!

If you love sharks, like us, you most likely have a case of Shark Week fever! Sharks have been swimming in the world’s oceans for more than 400 million years (since before the dinosaurs).

Although Discovery Channel’s annual event has become a cultural phenomenon, spawning sales of fin headbands and shark costumes for pets, this special week also brings the important issue of shark conservation to the forefront of people’s minds. These beautiful and amazing creatures might be scary to some, but their numbers are dwindling at an even scarier rate. As many as one-third of shark species are headed for extinction if we don’t act now.

In the 31 years the National Aquarium, Baltimore, has been open, sharks have gone from a commercial fishery the federal government declared underutilized to the brink of extinction. In that time, hammerhead shark populations in the Atlantic have decreased by nearly 93%. Since 1986, all recorded shark populations in the northwestern Atlantic, with the exception of mako sharks, have declined by more than 50%.

Scientists warn that continual overfishing of sharks has decimated the population, which cannot sustain the current rates. The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species estimates that 30% of open ocean sharks are threatened with extinction.

Below are just a few easy ways you can support our finned friends:

Join the Shark Week Facebook, Twitter Campaign
Show your support and join the Shark Week thunderclap. Through this online platform, shark fans can lend their voice to the cause and spread the word about protecting sharks from extinction.

Protest Shark Fin Soup
Every year, fins from tens of millions of sharks are used for this traditional, non-nutritional meal. Many species have been depleted nearly to the brink of extinction. Research shows that the massive depletion of sharks has cascading effects throughout the ocean’s ecosystems. Locally, the depletion of sandbar sharks has caused an increase in cownose rays in the Chesapeake Bay, which threatens the oyster industry. You can help by signing the Humane Society’s No Shark Fin Pledge.

Petition to List Great White Sharks Under the Endangered Species Act 
Great white sharks are disappearing. Help U.S. West Coast great whites get the protection they need by signing the Oceana petition.

Participate in a Shark Tagging Trip
Come aboard a National Aquarium shark tagging trip! Tagging sharks provides scientists with information on stock identity, migration and abundance, age and growth, mortality, and behavior. Although our 2012 trips are sold out, we encourage you to sign up for a 2013 trip! Next year’s dates will be announced in spring 2013. 

MARP Makes Connections at OC Shark Tournament

On June 15 and 16, the National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) team joined several other partners at the Ocean City Shark Tournament at the OC Fishing Center in west Ocean City, Maryland.

Mark Sampson, the tournament director and a partner and friend of the National Aquarium, stresses the importance of conservation and reminds participants each year of safe fishing practices. Every year prior to the tournament, Mark provides a clinic at the OC Fishing Center to discuss shark identification, safe handling, release, and rigging techniques.

The MARP team pulled out all the stops, giving visitors access to walk through a 56-foot inflatable replica of a sei whale. These whales are seen in our waters off the coast of Maryland, as they use our warmer waters as a thoroughfare. Our volunteers constructed this amazing whale with the help of Damon Pla, who has graciously donated his time and artistic expertise to these beautiful artwork displays and the skeleton along the inside of the ever-popular sei whale.

Sei whale and leatherback turtle art

Sei whale and leatherback turtle art

Visitors of all ages took the opportunity to learn more about these animals, as well as others, when they ventured into the “belly” of the whale. There was not one person who did not come out smiling, and with a little bit more knowledge about this particular species.

Kids walking in sei whale

Kids walking in the sei whale

The tournament was a success, even though the weather was not very cooperative while fishermen were out on the water. On Friday, one boat braved the heavy winds and high seas until they decided to turn back around at noon. They did turn in a release report, however, which included a sandbar and spinner shark.

On Saturday, eight out of 11 boats went out into the 15-20-knot winds and 5-foot-high waves. Early morning showed promise, with several spinner sharks being recorded and released, and by the end of the day, seven teams had caught and released 22 sharks.

Overall, 44 sharks were caught and released, which included six mako, 13 sandbar or dusky, 21 spinner, two hammerhead, and two tiger; none of which were brought in for weigh-in at the dock. The only fish brought in to the docks throughout the entire tournament were three bluefish.

MARP volunteer Rob Filip talking with a family

MARP volunteer Rob Filip talking with a family

Although this is our first year to join the festivities at the OC Shark Tournament, we do hope that this continues for future years!

Interested in tag-and-release shark fishing? Join our annual shark tagging trip! During this trip, the public is invited to join Aquarium staff for a day of shark tagging off the coast of Ocean City, MD. Tagging sharks provides scientists with information on stock identity, migration and abundance, age and growth, mortality, and behavior.

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