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June 12, 2012

Scientists Use Smartphone Tech to Measure Sharks' Post-Release Recovery

Florida newspaper's video shows use of accelerometer on blacktip caught at Boca Grande Pass

Scientists from Florida’s Mote Marine Laboratory and the Florida Aquarium have implanted tags containing an accelerometer into the fins of 16 blacktip sharks caught over the last nine months, according to an article and video (below) from southwest Florida’s News-Press posted Monday from a recent tagging trip. An accelerometer is used in smartphones, iPods and Wii game consoles and can measure a fish’s movements.

The scientists hope to study the sharks’ post-release behavior to gauge the effects of hook-and-line fishing on this popular species. They’re also catching blacktips with circle and J-hooks to measure any quantifiable differences.

The News-Press says the accelerometer can detect fine body movements such as individual tailbeats and record the fish’s pitch, roll and yaw, which would determine if it’s swimming straight or floundering.

The scientists hope to tag and release 30 sharks this year. The tags are set to pop off the animals after two or three days and float to the surface, where scientists can find and retrieve them using a VHF signal, the article states. Data from the study, paid for by NOAA’s Cooperative Research Program, will be reported in the upcoming Southeast Data, Assessment and Review (SEDAR) assessment on blacktips.