An ambitious project means anyone can now track the movements of almost 50 sharks in realtime. Some 47 sharks have been tagged with an array of sensors that allow scientists to accurately plot their position.
The data is then fed into the OCEARCH Global Tracker, which updates the sharks' location as a dot on a map. You can click on any of the dots to find a picture of the shark along with its size and "name," and look through where it's been since being tagged. Speaking to Computer World, marine biologist Nick Whitney says the program collected around 100 data points every second — 8.5 million per day. "It's just phenomenal," says Whitney, "second by second, we can pick up every tail beat and change in posture."
Take Mary Lee, a 16-foot 3,456-pound great white that was first tracked last September. Since being tagged, Mary Lee has covered most of the Eastern Seaboard, swimming very close to the coastline. So close, in fact, that the team behind the tracking project called the beach authorities in Florida to warn them about Mary Lee's presence. The data also revealed that Mary Lee swam all the way to Bermuda — behavior scientists suspect is common among her species. "Sharks have probably been doing it for millions of years," says Whitney, "we're learning things that 10 years ago we would have never dreamed we could have learned about these species.