On May 31st, our ASLC Shark Research Team caught our first Pacific Sleeper Shark (we posted the picture of our success a few weeks ago here). As she was too big for our main study, we collected various measurements, samples, and attached a satellite tag to track her movements and diving patterns after release (Permit #CF-18-041).
We were planning to tell the story of the capture efforts and our first catch in a blog post next week when much to our surprise, the satellite tag that was programmed to stay with the shark for 180 days began transmitting this past weekend–meaning it had become prematurely-detached. When the tags detach, they pop to the surface and begin transmitting the data they collected and locations to the Argos satellites. However, some additional data is stored in the memory of the tag and is not transmitted. It can only be recovered if you find the tag.
The information we received from the satellite data indicated the tag had likely washed ashore somewhere near the cruise ship dock in Seward. So Markus, Philina and I went out yesterday for a little #sciencescavengerhunt. Since the area we needed to search was technically on secured property, we were accompanied by Dwayne Atwood, the Assistant Port Manager with the Alaska Railroad.
Armed with a Goniometer (a high tech version of “Marco”–“Polo” that gives you a bearing in the direction of the tag) and a few more handheld receivers we began to search.
The beach was large boulders, small nooks and crannies…and everything was the same color as the tag.
But our persistence won the day when Dwayne saw a blinking light in a crevice, reached in and recovered the tag!!!
By recovering the tag, we now will get significantly more data about what our first shark was doing in the depths of Resurrection Bay, and maybe more about why the tag detached. A big thanks to Dwayne and the Railroad for the assistance!
So apologies for getting ahead of ourselves–but tune in next week to hear more about our efforts to study Pacific Sleeper Sharks and our recent activities out on Resurrection Bay.
Written by: Amy Bishop