Scientists say they have developed a revolutionary new tracking technology that may be the key to saving sharks from extinction.
A team from Arizona State University (ASU) has developed an intrauterine satellite tag, called the birth-alert-tags (BAT), that is inserted into pregnant sharks. When the shark gives birth, the tag pops out and floats to the surface, transmitting messages that announce the time and location of the birth.
The device has already been used on three shark species – sand sharks, scalloped hammerheads, and tiger sharks – and is yielding remarkable results. Scientists once assumed that sand sharks gave birth inland, but this new technology reveals that they prefer to do so in abandoned shipwrecks on the ocean floor.
Professor James Sulikowski from ASU, and Dr. Neil Hammerschlag from the University of Miami, have created the device in order to help protect shark numbers. As many as 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fins, and their habitats are under serious threat.
“This novel, satellite-based technology will be especially valuable for the protection of threatened and endangered shark species… We’ve been trying to do this since we started studying sharks. This is our holy grail.””— Professor James Sulikowski, ASU
The hope is that the device will help scientists find suitable habitats for shark pups to grow up in, preventing their extinction. “This novel, satellite-based technology will be especially valuable for the protection of threatened and endangered shark species,” explained Professor Sulikowski. “We’ve been trying to do this since we started studying sharks. This is our holy grail.”
The researchers plan to use the device all over the world to help protect sharks and figure out how to conserve them. “Honestly, it feels incredible to have created technology that is going to revolutionize the way that we study sharks,” said Sulikowski.
Read more > ‘Holy grail’ of tracking technology may save sharks and their babies from extinction
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