There’s a website that lets you track the locations of sharks from all over the world.
Ocearch, a global, non-profit organisation, is currently keeping tabs on over 400 sharks - including great whites, hammerheads, and tiger sharks.
The organisation tags sharks to conduct research about the species, help accelerate the ocean’s return to its natural balance, and offer protection to the endangered creatures.
If a tagged shark’s dorsal fins come close to the water’s surface, it sets off a ‘ping’ which allows the website to track the animal’s location.
While sharks are the main focus, Ocearch also tracks other sea creatures - including turtles, seals, dolphins, and even one whale.
How many sharks are there?
There are currently 432 sharks registered on the organisation’s system.
Some of the most recent pings include tiger shark Isla Belle (nearly 114ft) who was tracked near Australia on 5 August, and enormous whale shark Ali, measuring at nearly 20ft and weighing in at 2921lbs, who was traced near Papua New Guinea.
On 2 August, a great white shark which at the time of tagging measured at over 13ft and weighed roughly 1,500lbs, was pinged 60 miles away from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
His name is Breton.
In Europe, there are two sharks swimming to the west of Portugal - Machaca, an 8ft blue shark, and Rizzilient, a smaller female who measures at just 5ft.
Where are the most sharks located?
As you would expect, there are plenty of sharks circling North America - with hotspots including the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, and off the coast of New York.
The waters near Australia are also popular, and there are currently 20 sharks near Cape Town, South Africa.
The Mediterranean Sea and the west coast of Central America are the most popular amongst turtles, and a collection of seals were tracked near San Francisco, California.
Why does the organisation track sharks?
Ocearch is collecting previously unattainable data which will help with ocean conservation, protecting endangered species, and improving public safety.
The team has embarked upon several expeditions over the past few years, all with the aim of collecting more information - and tag more sharks to track and study.
The 44th expedition kicks off in September in Canada, with a focus on white sharks - 36 of which are currently tagged in Canadian waters.
Previous research has revealed that Nova Scotia is an important summer foraging site for the animals, and the team hope to gather information to help guide responsible conservation and public safety efforts.
What about shark attacks?
The website was not created with the intention of tracking shark attacks, but Ocearch has said that its research will help improve public safety and awareness.
While shark attacks were recently brought back into the spotlight, after a woman snorkelling off the coast of Cornwall suffered a bite to the leg, attacks in the grand scheme of things are very rare.
The victim herself said she did not want the “freak incident” to “tarnish the reputation of an already persecuted species.”
According to the International Shark Attack File, in 2021, there were 73 unprovoked shark bites on humans and 39 provoked bites.
Of these, 10 proved fatal.
To put this into perspective, estimates show that there are nearly 1 billion sharks in the world.
According to National Geographic, there is a one in 3.7 million chance of being killed by a shark. Some of the things which are statistically far more likely to kill you than a shark include:
- a champagne cork
- a lawnmower
- a ladder
- falling over
In the UK, before the incident in Cornwall, Shark Trust reported that there had been “no unprovoked shark bites in British waters since records began in 1847.”
Are sharks endangered?
Despite their vast population, sharks are considered to be endangered animals.
While some species of shark have sustainable populations, others are disappearing from oceans at an alarming rate.
According to wildlife charity WWF, the main threats include overfishing, damage to reefs and other key habitats, and a rising demand for shark fin which leads to hunting and poaching.
ScienceDaily recently reported that two thirds of sharks in the global shark fin trade are at risk of extinction.
Where can I track the sharks?
You can follow the movement of sharks on Ocearch’s shark finder page.
You can learn their names, find out where they were last spotted, and even find out their length, weight and which shark family they belong to.