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Hawaiʻi Tiger Shark Tracking

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Hawaiʻi Tiger Shark Tracking was nominated for the 2016 WOWSA Awards, a recognition of outstanding men, women, performances and offerings around the globe sponsored by the World Open Water Swimming Association in the category of World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year

Hawaiʻi Tiger Shark Tracking is an online tracking system of tiger sharks in and around the State of Hawaii. The system provides a colorful online map that shows the most recent detection of each tagged tiger shark. Visitors can select a specific shark from its website and see the fully animated tracking for that particular shark. The sharks are listed by size (e.g., 13.4 ft (4.1 meters), sex (male or female), and its positioning throughout specific time periods.

This PacIOOS Voyager map shows the movements of tiger sharks fitted with satellite tags near the islands of Maui and Oʻahu between 2013 and 2015. The tag is attached to the shark’s dorsal fin and sends a signal every time the fin breaks the surface. Online visitors can pick a shark from the menu to watch its track. There is a level of uncertainty associated with some of these locations—there may be over a mile in error associated with any given point.

Purpose[edit]

Maui witnessed a higher number of unprovoked shark encounters in 2012 and 2013. In order to better understand tiger shark movement patterns, a team of researchers from the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology equipped 41 tiger sharks with satellite and/or acoustic tags off Maui and Oʻahu and tracked their movements for up to two years.

The study revealed that tiger sharks prefer to spend time on insular shelf habitat, which is a gently-sloping area between the shoreline and the shelf break at a depth of around 600 feet. This type of shelf habitat is home to a wide variety of shark prey, and Maui Nui has more of this shelf habitat than all of the other main Hawaiian Islands combined. The habitat around Maui can support fairly resident tiger sharks, and it also attracts tiger sharks from other parts of Hawaiʻi.

Areas that are most frequently visited by tiger sharks around Maui include waters adjacent to popular ocean recreation sites. However, despite the routine presence of large tiger sharks close to popular beaches, the risk of being bitten remains very low, suggesting tiger sharks normally avoid interactions with people.

The research findings will help officials from the State of Hawaiʻi to raise public awareness of the natural presence of large sharks in Hawaiʻi coastal waters.

2016 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year nomination[edit]

The Hawaiʻi Tiger Shark Tracking was nominated for the 2016 WOWSA Awards, a recognition of outstanding men, women, performances and offerings around the globe sponsored by the World Open Water Swimming Association in the category of World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

Sharks have always been one of the most feared aspects of ocean swimming. But, in fact, relatively few open water swimmers have experienced shark encounters in the ocean and even fewer have been attacked by sharks. But with a spike in the number of shark encounters in Maui, government officials and researchers endeavored to track tiger sharks and learn more about their movements and habitats. After a two-period period of tagging with satellite and acoustic tags and tracking these large sharks off Hawaii coastal waters, the data was offered online to the general public. For its efforts in educating the public about the presence of sharks near ocean recreational areas, for its offering of objective data and research findings about sharks to the scientific community, for its fascinating online animation of shark movements, the Hawaiʻi Tiger Shark Tracking system is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

Video[edit]


Hawaiʻi Tiger Shark Tracking provided by PacIOOS or the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System.

Funding Partners[edit]

With funding from the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), data were collected by Principal Investigators Carl Meyer, Ph.D. and Kim Holland, Ph.D. along with other members of the Shark Research Team of the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UH).

WOWSA Award Nomination[edit]

It was nominated for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year by the World Open Water Swimming Association.

External links[edit]