Most Commonly Asked Questions
What radar tracking equipment is used to track and research sharks?
Radar is actually not used to track the movements of sharks and other
fish. The equipment that is used to track sharks is known as an acoustic
telemetry system. Telemetry is a scientific method that is used the track
the movements of wild animals so that more can be learned about their migrations
and home ranges. For land animals, radio telemetry is used. For ocean
fish, however, radio does not work, so acoustic signals are used to track
them. Acoustic telemetry means that the equipment uses pulses of sound
rather than radio waves. The acoustic telemetry system requires 2 main
components, (1) a transmitter and (2) a receiver. The transmitters
are about the size and shape of a mini-flashlight. The transmitter is
attached to the shark by being tied to its dorsal fin, or tagged to its
back. Transmitters can also be surgically implanted into the body of the shark.
The shark is then released, and the attached transmitter gives off
regular acoustic pulses (which can't be heard by the shark or other
animals) so it can be followed. The boat carries the receiver which picks
up the acoustic signal and tells where the shark is located in
reference to the boat. It is then followed from several hours to
several days, producing a track of the shark's movements through its
natural habitats. It is very sophisticated equipment, but allows the study of the shark's
behavior and swimming patterns without actually seeing the shark.
An example of an acoustic transmitter © Tobey Curtis