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May 29, 2018 3:02 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Long Island Aquairum Hosts Shark Tagging Event

Shredfin with his new tag.  DANA SHAW
May 29, 2018 3:37 PM

Students from the Southampton and Bridgehampton school districts are working with scientists from the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead to help them to better understand how sharks live in the wild.

To help scientists tag wild sharks with recording devices called CATS-Cams—a yellow buoy-like device that is typically attached to a shark’s dorsal fin using a pressure clip, and which records data on the shark’s velocity, swim pattern and tail beats to help scientists understand how sharks behave in their habitat—the students and personnel at the aquarium have been practicing tagging sand sharks at the Riverhead facility.

In an effort to promote shark conservation, on May 17, Shredfin, a 20-year-old sand tiger shark, was the first of many sharks to be tagged with a CATS-Cam. The 10-foot-long shark was rescued off the coast of Jones Beach in 1999, according to Shredfin’s tagger, Bridgehampton science teacher Jeff Neubauer.

This summer, Mr. Neubauer will work in collaboration with Southampton science teacher Greg Metzger and the South Fork Natural History Museum’s Shark Research and Education Program to tag threshers, young great whites, dusky, and sandbar sharks in the waters surrounding Long Island.

To gather the data, the devices must first be retrieved, Mr. Neubauer said. “The caveat is we have to get the tag back to download the data,” he said.

That’s why the tag is equipped with two zip-ties and an organic metal ring made of two different metals that react with saltwater and degrade after 24 hours, Mr. Neubauer said. “From there, it floats to the surface,” he noted.

Mr. Metzger pointed to a round and square hole on the back of the device, which holds a satellite and radio transmitter. Once the tag breaks the surface, the satellite transmitter will automatically activate and send its GPS location to the scientists’ email addresses. The radio transmitter allows Mr. Metzger to pinpoint the device’s location to retrieve it.

“Then we download the data, and it’s ready to deploy again,” he said.

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