ARGOS USER STORIES
Written by: Kesley Gibson
Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi
Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation
Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies
The Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation (CSSC) is the first research center in the western Gulf of Mexico dedicated to providing key science-based information that supports sustainable management of the multibillion-dollar recreational fishery that flourishes along the Gulf Coast. The shark program at the CSSC uses SPOT (Satellite Positioning or Temperature) tags and the Argos satellite system to generate much needed data on the ecology of sharks in the Gulf of Mexico, especially Scalloped Hammerheads, Tiger sharks, and Mako sharks. Currently, the CSSC scientists have tagged 15 sharks, with the hope of more to come in the near future!
One of the most recently tagged sharks is Harvey, a 7.9 ft shortfin Mako shark weighing 230 lbs! Harvey was named after Harvey Weil, the grandson of Chuck Weil and the great-grandson of the renowned sportsman Harvey Weil, who was dedicated to the preservation of nature and sportsmanship. “Harvey” was tagged off the coast of Texas and is currently heading across the Gulf of Mexico along the continental shelf (see map), and since being tagged at the beginning of April he has traveled ~1500 miles!
Migration patterns of Mako sharks are currently unknown in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), but are critical for the protection and management of this species that is currently classified as vulnerable on the IUNC Red List. Through satellite tracking, basic life history information that is largely lacking can be collected and lay the foundation for future Mako habitat and ecological studies. Mako sharks occur seasonally in high abundance off Texas but quickly leave to unknown areas, demonstrating the great need to better refine the migration patterns and hypothesized spawning concentrations of these apex predators in the GOM.
The CSSC scientists hope Harvey, along with their other sharks, will help determine the migration patterns and habitat preferences of these apex predators in the Gulf of Mexico. You can follow the sharks tagged by the CSSC team at http://sportfishcenter.org/participate/citizen-science/shark-tracker.
Video of CSSC tagging Harvey the Marko shark.
CSSC team with Harvey the Mako shark.
The black dots on the map to the left show the locations from Harvey from his release on April 8th, 2016 until June 24th, 2016.
Dr. Greg Stunz, Director of CSSC, says, "Harvey’s migration pattern is a great example of the need for coordinated multinational management of sharks. Harvey will cross three different territorial waters that have very dissimilar regulations and philosophies when it comes to shark management and regulation. Sharks don’t respect territorial boundaries and this behavior may have implications for the future of shark populations in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic. This also represents the power of satellite tracking and understanding movement patterns at the fine-scale."
The second map, lower left, connects the dots and shows the migration route Harvey chose to take. The new locations and move South happened between June 24th, 2016 and July 12th, 2016.
Kesley Gibson added, "He is our first to cross the Gulf! We are excited!"