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The migration of blacktip sharks to South Florida is a well-documented pulse of wintertime energy as schools of the streamlined predators prowl their way south to warmer climes.
But beyond aerial images of shadows spilling across a field of blue, the daily diary of shark activity here remains a mystery.
Monday - Florida - Atlantic - University - Researchers
On Monday, Florida Atlantic University researchers began a study to chronicle the minutia of shark life off Palm Beach County's coast with new sensors that measure movements as detailed as how many times they beat their tails to what time of day they prefer to make their close-up beach visits.
The sensors, which attach to the shark's dorsal fin and cost about $6,000 each, pop off after four days. Satellite and radio signals alert researchers to their whereabouts and a treasure trove of data.
Opportunity - Population - Sharks - Coast - FAU
"We have a unique opportunity here because we have a resident population of sharks milling about along the coast," said FAU professor Stephen Kajiura, who runs the university's Elasmobranch Research Laboratory in Boca Raton. "If you were to do this somewhere else, the shark may swim out into the open ocean and you'd never get the transmitter back."
First, though, the sharks must be caught, and that was the mission under overcast skies Monday as Kajiura and his team of four motored out the Lake Worth Inlet on a 23-foot open fisherman with a frozen block of chum dragging behind them.
Rod - Reel - Team - Drone - Drum
Instead of using rod and reel, the team fishes with a drone and a drum line—a concrete anchor attached to a floating buoy and baited circle hook. The drum line is less harmful to the shark because it reduces fight time and allows the shark to stay submerged with water running over its gills before tagging, Kajiura said. Ten drum lines were dropped overboard Monday south of the inlet and near...
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