Mako Shark Joins the Snowbirds in Migrating Back Up North

“Rob” is swimming northward just in time for summer

Mako Shark Joins the Snowbirds in Migrating Back Up North
Satellite tagging by scientists is revealing migratory patterns of mako sharks.Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation

“Rob,” a five and one-half-foot male shortfin mako shark, is officially a snowbird. Tagged off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland. in June of 2017, Rob is currently pinging off the coast of North Carolina after spending the winter and spring swimming along the eastern coast of Florida and Georgia.

"We've been tracking mako sharks for some time now, and we continue to see new aspects about their migratory behavior," said Mahmood Shivji, Ph.D., the director of NSU's Guy Harvey Research Institute and a professor in the university's Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography. "Our research has recently revealed that makos are overfished in the western Atlantic Ocean; a good understanding of their migratory patterns is essential to improve conservation and management of this shark so its population size can recover."

Rob is one of more than 150 sharks of different species tagged by scientists from Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) in the last decade. According to data received from Rob’s tracker, he has travelled 6,675 miles in 328 days and shows no sign of slowing down.

The data collected from these tagged fish is used to study migration patterns. Many of them can be followed online in near real-time at www.GHRItracking.org. Understanding where these animals live and travel is essential to proper management.

GHRI tracking data recently confirmed that the fishing mortality rate for mako sharks in the NW Atlantic Ocean is 10 times what was previously thought. Because of this and other data, the National Marine Fisheries Service recently instituted increased protections for shortfin mako sharks, an economically and ecologically important species.

Rob is the mako’s nickname, which is tracked on the map by his sponsor’s name Advanced Roofing 3.

For more information about shark tagging and other programs, visit the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and NSU's Guy Harvey Research Institute.