New web site tracks tiger sharks tagged off Maui

New web site tracks tiger sharks tagged off Maui
Published: Nov. 15, 2013 at 9:29 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2013 at 10:02 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After several recent attacks, a new web site allows people to track the movements of tiger sharks tagged by researchers off Maui last month. Scientists from the University of Hawaii at Manoa captured and tagged 15 sharks between Kihei and Makena. 6 of this year's 11 attacks took place around the Valley Isle.

"When we have a more robust understanding of what the sharks around Maui are doing, then we'll be better able to determine how much human activity is playing into those shark bite figures," said Carl Meyer of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.

All of the sharks are implanted with acoustic tags that are sending data to underwater receivers. The largest animals are also equipped with satellite trackers on their dorsal fins. Meyer said the initial results are consistent with the wide-ranging behavior seen previously around other islands.

"They've revisited the places where they were originally captured, but they haven't stayed in any one location for very long. They're constantly on the move, and the timing of their visits has been unpredictable," explained Meyer.

The UH team plans to return to Maui soon for more tagging. This time, they will head north to spots like Waiehu and Kanaha Beach Park.

"The conventional scientific process is pretty slow, so it will be a couple of years before we publish a formal analysis of our data, whereas this web site allows people on Maui or anywhere else for that matter, to see where those tiger sharks are traveling," Meyer said.

While the scientists receive the satellite data in real-time, the web site is only updated once a day. The $186,000 study will help guide the state's decisions about managing Hawaii's mysterious tiger shark population.

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