Sharks have certainly received their fair share of negative attention in the past, especially with the success of the film “Jaws” that sent swimmers and beach tourists scampering for a while. Of course, most of us know by now that sharks rarely attack humans, and when they do, it is because we humans on surfboards were mistaken for something else. It is not as though they have a penchant for human flesh like zombies do…and to study sharks in their natural habitat for the long haul can prove to be rather challenging. I guess this is where modern day technology comes in handy, case in point a new underwater robot which is capable of tracking great white sharks and other underwater predators to pick up more details on their habits.
Researchers tend to rely on anecdotal reports from commercial fishermen in order to know more about sharks, and since the shark industry is relatively small, anecdotal information would in turn, be scarce. Enter biologist Chris Lowe from California State University Long Beach and engineer Chris Clark from Harvey Mudd College, who have worked on a shark-tracking robot for the past three years. This robot has been programmed not to disturb the shark’s natural behaviour, lurking anywhere from 300 to 500 meters behind at all times, and in a previous experiment, they achieved success by tracking a leopard shark off the coast of Los Angeles last summer. Hopefully it won’t run into any anti-shark devices…RELATED