Shark tagging is vital to researchers as they study the migratory patterns, life history, and many other aspects of various shark species. The data they collect is used to protect these animals for generations to come.
Thanks to ocean conservation nonprofit Rock The Ocean, a whale shark has been tagged by the Guy Harvey Foundation, Nova Southeastern University’s Guy Harvey Research Institute and Ch’ooj Ajauil to further help scientists understand where these gentle animals migrate, thus advancing global efforts to conserve this endangered species.
Swim Shady, named by Rock The Ocean’s Tortuga Music Festival social media followers, has joined a number of tagged sharks that are being tracked and studied by scientists at NSU’s GHRI. Tags register a shark’s location when the dorsal fin breaks the ocean surface. Swim Shady’s travels, along with those of other sharks researchers have tagged, can be followed online for free at ghritracking.org.
According to Greg Jacoski, executive director of research and policy for the Guy Harvey Foundation:
“Anytime we can introduce the world to one of the magnificent ambassadors for the world’s oceans, like Swim Shady, we know we are gaining fans who care about our oceans and its inhabitants. Through our partnership with Rock the Ocean and the incredible community support we have at Tortuga Musical Festival’s Conservation Village every year, we continue to raise funds for marine science education and research programs, thus making waves for a sustainable future together.”
Though whale sharks mostly travel alone, there are times they gather in large numbers in feeding aggregations. Swim Shady is expected to venture in the waters offshore of Isla Mujeres, Mexico and in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
Whale sharks are endangered as they are harvested in many countries for their fins, oils, meat and other items, and sometimes also victims of ship strikes during their migrations. That’s why the research on this species is so vital – learning as much as possible on migratory patterns and more can help those in positions to enact legislation that will protect these majestic creatures.