Every summer, sharks make headlines. Our fascination with these rulers of the deep is even celebrated in the Discovery Channel’s weeklong “Shark Week,” now in its 29th year.
While it’s understandable that we fixate on sharks, it’s also true that you’re far more likely (about 30 times more likely) to get struck by lightning than attacked by a shark.
Shark Week is now a Pop culture phenomenon, and the longest-running annual event in cable TV. (Photo: Discovery Channel)
Now scientists and researchers are using several new cutting-edge technologies together to make beaches even safer during the active summer season, when sharks are most attracted to extra activity in their waters, due to human swimmers.
Jaws on the Brain
No doubt about it, sharks get a bad rap. Ever since a certain summer blockbuster electrified audiences more than 40 years ago, people have spent more time gazing out at ocean surfaces and wondering what might be hidden below in ocean depths.
But the fact is, in the U.S. you’re more likely to die by getting bit by snakes, bees or wasps than by getting eaten by a Great White.
Grabbing Killer Video of Killer Fish
Still, the thought of any shark attack is plenty unpleasant and enough to motivate cutting-edge research by scientists at Duke University and the University of North Carolina.
The goal: Use drones with mounted cameras to spot Great Whites as they migrate along the Atlantic waters of the East Coast of the U.S.
Tech comes to the rescue as Duke scientists harness the power of drones to track Great Whites.
It’s an idea that’s already been tried with success in California and Australia, and researchers are trying to adapt the technology to the East Coast, where waters are not as transparent and marine creatures are more difficult to detect.
To help cut through the murky waters of the Atlantic, researchers are experimenting with super-cool infrared cameras! (Just another amazing thing you can do with photography.)
Keeping Tabs on Nature’s Leading Predator
Up along Cape Cod, Massachusetts – where much of Jaws was filmed – there have been more reported sightings of Great White during the last few years.
Marine biologists attribute this rise to an increased presence of seals in the area – the preferred delicacy of sharks.
The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy tries to keep up with the traffic of Great Whites, all the way up the East Coast from Florida to Canada.
The Conservancy is working to track the movements of sharks tagged by marine biologists. It’s accomplishing this with the help of a fantastic new app that lets interested parties follow tagged sharks and even report new sightings of Great White.
To Prevent Attacks and Encourage Conservation
It’s hoped that this new technology will not only protect humans from shark attacks, but also help oceanographers and marine biologists study and preserve sharks in their natural habitats.
Great White sharks are magnificent creatures that are as fascinating as they are feared. They are mysterious creatures and that only adds to their mystique – and our terror.