The OCEARCH operations and research teams are heading out to the western North Atlantic (US East Coast) to catch, tag, retrieve data/samples and release sharks for the 17 Projects, 25 Principal Investigators. Seventeen (17) Institutions will be collaborating on data and specimens from the sharks that have been retrieved onboard the ships starboard platform.
In 2007, Chris Fischer, Founder and Expedition Leader created OCEARCH to help raise awareness of global marine conservation and further research efforts into great white sharks. Since its inception, OCEARCH has traveled to Africa, Brazil, Chile, Galapagos, Mexico, Coco Islands, Boca Grande, California, Fallon Islands, and Australia.
This mission, Expedition North Atlantic Shared Foraging Area (FL/GA/SC) 2019, is currently on her way and will wrap up around March 2, 2019. The following are the 17 investigations that scientists will be undertaking. The Chief Scientist for this expedition is Bryan Franks, Assistant Professor, Jacksonville University. Other universities and institutions include; Mote Marine Laboratory, University of Washington, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Georgia Aquarium, Wildlife Conservation Society/New York Aquarium, Georgia Tech, Georgia Aquarium, University of South Carolina-Beaufort, Department of Environment and Climate Change-Canada, University of Florida, University of North Florida, South Eastern Zoological Alliance for Reproductive Conservation (SEZARC), Stony Brook University, Cape Canaveral Scientific, Auburn University and, Georgia Southern University.
1. Movements of white sharks and other large shark species in the Atlantic Ocean. 2. Oceanographic associations of large pelagic predators in the Atlantic Ocean. 3. Nutritional markers in sharks sampled in the North Atlantic. 4. Microbiome composition of juvenille and adult sharks. 5. Prey identification through assesssment of fecal DNA. 6. Microplastic trophic transfer and plastic-associated toxin exposure in North Atlantic elasmobranchs. 7. Assessing the health of Atlantic shark populations via hematology, plasma biochemistry, protein electrophoresis, cholesterol electrophoresis and acute phase proteins. 8. Physiological effects of capture stress in the white shark. 9. Reproduction in white sharks. 10.Semen analysis of white sharks. 11.Characterization of sperm DNA fragmentation in the white shark. 12.Body burdens & molecular responses to contaminants in Atlantic sharks. 13.Comparative analysis of DNA sequence variation in the white shark. 14.Ectoparasites of white sharks and other shark species. 15.Visual physiology of white sharks. 16.Trophic ecology of white sharks in the western North Atlantic. 17.Assessing metal contaminents and oxidative stress in large sharks. You can read the details of each Project by following the link below.
Link to projects: Expedition NASFA Brief
SPOT GPS and Acoustic Tagging
Captain Brett McBride OCEARCH’s Fishing Master will direct his team aboard a Contender 28 Tournament powered with twin 300 hp Yamaha outboard motors. They will fish with rods and reels hoping to catch and lead a Great White Shark to the platform.
When on the platform tags such as SPOT, acoustic, and accelerometer are attached to the shark’s dorsal fin. OCEARCH has carefully crafted its procedures to minimize stress and risk to the sharks during research expeditions. From the capture to the release, the tagging, handling, and sampling procedures follow established protocols by Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUC) of participating institutions. 12+ samples in 15 minutes.
Ocearch, built in 1990, is a 126-foot vessel that was once used for king crab fishing in the Bering Sea. She weighs in at 433 Gross Tons with a beam of 13.3 ft. The Contender and platform are slid across the deck, lifted and then lowered into the water with a 75,000 hydraulic lift that is capable of lifting 4,000+ pound sharks out of the water for readings, testing, and sample gathering. She is powered by 2-Cat 3412 engines, 1-C4.4 generator set, and 1-C6.6 generator set for long periods at sea.
OCEARCH and her team were docked at Jacksonville Landing over the weekend, conducting STEM education tours and general public tours. Please view the following video of OCEARCH as she’s docked. Murfam Post Video Drone footage by Jason Perrone