OCEARCH Shark Tagging Research Expands to Gulf of Mexico

Data will shed light on migration patterns and interaction between large predators and the oil and gas platforms in the region

PARK CITY, Utah, Sept. 23, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- OCEARCH is bringing its unique research vessel, the M/V OCEARCH, to the Gulf of Mexico for a multi-species study to generate previously unattainable scientific data critical to ocean conservation – specifically for hammerhead, tiger and mako sharks.

Shared amongst 3 countries - USA, Mexico and Cuba – each with different regulations, the Gulf of Mexico is a large marine ecosystem where policy development and enforcement requires multi-national cooperation. Research on shark migration will provide scientists with data necessary to understand the rates of exchange within this tri-national water body, in order to affect policy and conserve these sharks.

In partnership with the Harte Research Institute (HRI) for Gulf of Mexico Studies, OCEARCH has assembled a multi-institutional science team to gather data critical to the health of the Gulf. Dr. Greg Stunz, Professor of Marine Biology at the HRI at Texas A &M University-Corpus Christi, is handling the role of lead scientist. "Little is known about shark migration patterns in the Gulf and particularly in the western region," Stunz said. "Our aim is to change that by providing migration data through satellite tags along with a wealth of other scientific data collection tools."

Additionally, data is needed to understand the interaction between large predators and the oil and gas platforms currently present in the Gulf, and how this relationship compares to natural reefs and other ocean features.

"This partnership is exactly what the Gulf needs at a critical time for this region and the sharks that inhabit it," Stunz added.

The expedition, largely supported by Caterpillar Inc. as part of a socially innovative multi-year partnership to impact ocean sustainability, is scheduled to take place October 10 through October 30, 2015, beginning in Galveston, TX and ending in New Orleans, LA. "At Caterpillar, we consistently demonstrate our commitment to sustainability, and our support of OCEARCH is another way our solutions are helping preserve the planet," said Caterpillar Global Brand Marketing Manager Diane Lantz-Rickard.

The expedition is also supported by HRI's Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation, Texas State Aquarium, Cheniere Energy, Coastal Conservation Association Texas and Orion Drilling.

Anyone and everyone can follow the OCEARCH expedition by accessing the near-real time, free online Global Shark Tracker or by downloading the Global Shark Tracker App available for Apple and Android platforms.

"Creating a global ocean movement that connects the dots between sharks and the health of the ocean, through research expeditions, the Global Shark Tracker and our education program is essential to ensuring an ocean for our kids," said Chris Fischer, OCEARCH Founding Chairman and Expedition Leader. "Bringing that movement home to the Gulf for the first time is a true inspiration for our organization and team, and our socially innovative partners like Caterpillar, Costa and Harte Research Institute. It's an honor to bring OCEARCH's unique capacity for progress to this amazing body of water and region, and to serve the scientific community that's dedicated to its future."


OCEARCH is a non-profit organization with a global reach for unprecedented ocean-based research on apex predators such as Great White and Tiger Sharks, supporting leading researchers and institutions seeking to attain groundbreaking data on the movement, biology and health of keystone species to protect their future while enhancing public safety. The researchers OCEARCH supports work aboard the M/V OCEARCH, a 126' Cat powered vessel equipped with a 75,000 lb. hydraulic research platform, where the ship serves as both mothership and at-sea laboratory. Scientists have approximately 15 minutes of access to live, mature sharks to conduct up to 12 studies. The sharks are measured, tissue and blood samples are collected, and satellite and acoustic transmitters are attached. OCEARCH expeditions are largely supported by Caterpillar Inc., as part of a socially innovative multi-year partnership to impact ocean sustainability. Additional partnership support is provided by Costa Sunglasses, DYT Yacht Transport, Contender, Yamaha, SAFE Boats, MUSTAD and Landry's Inc.

About Caterpillar:

For nearly 90 years, Caterpillar Inc. has been making sustainable progress possible and driving positive change on every continent. Customers turn to Caterpillar to help them develop infrastructure, energy and natural resource assets. With 2013 sales and revenues of $55.656 billion, Caterpillar is the world's leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives. The company principally operates through its three product segments - Resource Industries, Construction Industries and Energy & Transportation - and also provides financing and related services through its Financial Products segment Cat.com/BuiltForIt.

About the Harte Research Institute:

The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, an endowed research component of Texas A &M University-Corpus Christi, is dedicated to advancing the long-term sustainable use and conservation of the Gulf of Mexico. HRI provides international leadership in generating and disseminating knowledge about the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and its critical role in the economies of the North American region. The Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation is a research hub at the HRI and dedicated to providing the key science for sustainable fisheries management.

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