Tiger Shark Sinks its Teeth into Scientific Study

Acoustic Transmitter (Vemco V16).  These transmitters are implanted inside the tiger sharks studied. They hydrophones deployed listen for and record sharks that swim by affixed with these transmitters

What’s happening in this video?

In this video, a tiger shark investigates and eventually bites an underwater hydrophone that our team set up in the Bahamas to study tiger shark movements. This is part of a larger collaborative research project underway on the behavior and ecology of tiger sharks in the subtropical Atlantic Ocean.

How it works?

These hydrophones, termed “acoustic receivers”, are essentially underwater devices that “listen” for and record acoustic signals emitted from transmitters that are attached to the study animals.

When the animal swims within several hundred meters of the receiver, the device records the presence of the transmitter tag (i.e. the animal) and the time of the detection. To be effective, scientists usually place a series of these receivers, called an array, in strategic locations to detect their study species. Thus, these acoustic tracking tools can provide detailed information on animal movement patterns.

To retrieve the data recorded by the receivers, scientists then have to usually recover and download the data, although new tools allow this to be done wireless and by other means. This differs from satellite tracking, where transmitters send recorded data from tagged animals to orbiting satellites. You can learn about satellite tracking here.

In our tiger shark study, the transmitters we use are very small (only 16 mm, image 1 below), especially when compared to the size of the huge tiger sharks (up to 4 m+). We carefully implant the transmitters inside the shark’s abdomen. To do this, we make a small incision with a scalpel through the shark’s abdominal wall, insert the tag and quickly stitch it back up (Image 2 below). The shark is released and the incision fully heals within days. The transmitters we use have enough battery to transmit for nearly 5 years.

Image 1: Acoustic Transmitter (Vemco V16). These —> Read More