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Study lets conservationists track sharks

Posted at 5:56 PM, Sep 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-23 19:06:19-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Texas State Aquarium, the Nature Conservancy, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department teamed up for the first time to collaborate on a shark electronic tagging and research expedition in the Gulf of Mexico. The study consisted of six sharks, including bull sharks, sand bar sharks and spinner sharks.

"Our staff was on there to do some health assessments to see how the sharks are doing, and we took ultrasound, grabbed measurements and the nature conservancy was there to do some acoustic tagging of the sharks as well so we could see different migration patterns through the bay," said Texas State Aquarium Chief Operating Officer Jesse Gilbert said.

The sharks were tagged with trackers that help the researchers follow their travel patterns.

"Tags are acoustic, so once the sharks swims by and receives an acoustic buoy it will ping that buoy and let them know, so it's data that's downloaded periodically," Gilbert said.

Through the collaboration of these three organizations, they were able to collect more data, to aid the conservation of sharks.

"As sharks go, so do the ocean," he said. "So if sharks aren't doing well, things will get out of wack in the ecosystem. so it's important to understand what they're doing, how healthy they are, how they're interacting with the environment, they can give us a lot of information."

This was the Texas State Aquarium's first time involved in the expedition, which Texas Parks and Wildlife Department conducts quarterly to continue following the sharks' movements.

"The more we can get out there and save wild animals, the better," Gilbert said.