Think You’re A Tough Guy? Catch a Great White, Then Talk To Me

OB32 March 6, 2013

Hook ‘em, ware them out, jump in the water and pull them onto a lift, lift them into the air, tag ‘em and then release.  That is roughly the 15min or less process these guys at OCEARCH (O-Search) do for a living.  

We tip our hats to you Sirs! 

The OCEARCH team is dedicated to catching, tagging and releasing Great White sharks in the wild to study their migratory patterns and mating and feeding habits.  This is important to understand the relationship between the sharks and all other living species, including us.  

They do this by first setting up large orange buoys with baited hooks the size of your head attached to them.  Once they hook a shark, the smaller catch boat wares the Great White down so that it is easier to handle before someone herds it onto a submerged deck from the side of the ship.  Then, once the shark is tired enough, they slowly pull (not before someone gets in the water to film) the shark onto the lowered deck.  The team then slowly lifts the deck and the shark out of the water.  Once the shark has surfaced, they have a maximum of 15min to get this monster back into the water whether they are finished or not. 

The process starts by covering the shark’s eyes to calm it a bit.  This is immediately followed by insertion of a large durable hose that pumps sea water through the shark’s gills to avoid suffocation.  Then the different teams of scientists do their jobs; blood and tissue samples, parasites, sexing, removal of the hook and most important, attaching the tag with bolts to the dorsal fin.  Once they are completed, and the time watcher gives the OK, they slowly lower the deck back into the water and the Great White calmly swims away.

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Why do this?

Imaging if a life guard could open a laptop, go to and find out what Great Whites are in the area now.  Well they can.  Now not all of the sharks in a given area ate tagged, that would take decades to do, or never.  However, it’s pretty damn cool to think that we are headed in that direction.  I know from a surfer’s standpoint, I would love to know what’s in the water before heading out for a couple of sets.  Although OCEARCH explains it best: 

       “Shark populations worldwide are under threat with significant declines in shark populations documented in areas where they were once common. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has determined that of the shark and ray species assessed, 30 percent are threatened or near-threatened with extinction. Conserving sharks is thus currently a global conservation priority and devising successful conservation and management strategies is largely limited by our scientific knowledge on their biology.”   --

So next time you think you’re some kind of badass for riding a mechanical bull, think about these guys.