Park City, UT, May 22, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On its most innovative expedition to date, OCEARCH, which has produced critical scientific data related to the sampling and tracking of keystone marine species, will ride the Gulf Stream’s drift, for the first time, to expand its research beyond sharks.

Joining one of their tagged white sharks, Savannah, who last pinged in near Key West, FL, OCEARCH will drift the stream 820 miles north to Cape Hatteras, NC. The Gulf Stream is a giant river of seawater connecting the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and North Atlantic. “The stream is one of the most dynamic oceanographic regimes in the world,” said Camrin Braun, one of the lead scientists on Expedition Gulf Stream. “Currents and strong gradients such as temperature, make this region a particularly interesting part of the global ocean for many marine species.”

The stream is home to a diverse group of species, including large pelagic predatory fishes such as billfish, tunas, and wahoo, and migratory animals such as sharks, sea turtles, whales, rays, dolphins, and seabirds. On this expedition, in addition to tagging and sampling sharks, the OCEARCH team will focus on the greater health of the ocean by incorporating oceanography into studies of the diverse marine creatures of the North Atlantic.

“We are branching out beyond sharks because we need to understand the entire system, not just the top predators, to ensure a healthy ocean for future generations,” said Dr. Robert Hueter, OCEARCH Chief Science Advisor and Director of the Center for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratory. “By studying the Gulf Stream, we will be able to chronicle the linkages between currents and marine species in a way never before possible.”

This expedition will include new research projects for OCEARCH, such as “Understanding Origins, Connectivity, and Protective Development of Lionfish Larvae and Juveniles in Pelagic Environments” lead by Dr. Robert Nowicki from Mote Marine Laboratory, and “Sargassum Community Assessment of the South Atlantic Bight” lead by David Kerstetter, Dayna Hunn, and Chris Blanar from Nova Southeastern.

In total, there are 37 researchers from 27 institutions participating in the expedition, this is OCEARCH’s biggest and most collaborative scientific trip to date. “We have a really great science lineup for this expedition,” said Braun. “From looking at ocean currents to how baby lionfish may hitch a ride in floating weed patches to white sharks moving across ocean basins and a lot of stuff in between, we have a diverse group of scientists and ocean experts coming together to share ideas and leverage their collective expertise to improve our understanding of the ocean.”

The expedition includes researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, University of Washington, Mote Marine Laboratory, Jacksonville University, SeaWorld, Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium, Adventure Aquarium, University of Massachusetts, University of North Florida, Auburn University, College of Charleston, Cape Canaveral Scientific, Georgia Aquarium, Georgia Southern University, South Eastern Zoological Alliance for Reproductive Conservation, VithajSafari South Africa, University of Florida, Southampton High School, Long Island Shark Collaboration, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of South Carolina Beaufort, Nova Southeastern University, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, University of Southern Florida, U.S. Geological Survey, Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research.

OCEARCH and its team will begin on May 24, 2018, and end on June 19, 2018, kicking off with education and outreach events from May 24-26 in Key West, FL, and fishing will begin on May 27th. There will also be outreach events at the end of the expedition, June 16-19 in Norfolk, VA.

All sharks tagged on the expedition will be fitted with at least one satellite transmitter tag and an acoustic tag. As the sharks’ fins break the surface, the satellite tag will transmit their locations. You can follow the sharks tagged during Expedition Gulf Stream by accessing the near-real-time, free online Global Shark Tracker or by downloading the Global Shark Tracker App available for Apple platform.

Ami Meite
OCEARCH
4358908958
ameite@ocearch.org