CSULB Shark Lab
SharkLab To Appear On PBS' Big Blue Live
Smart Shark Tags BeachFunder Project
Who We Are
The Shark Lab is a gem of the CSULB campus. The lab is dedicated to the study of the physiological and behavioral ecology of sharks, rays and other economically important gamefishes and is one of the largest acoustic telemetry labs on the west coast.
What Are Smart Shark Tags
Shark Lab graduate student, Connor White, has developed a Smart Shark Tag package consisting of a 3D accelerometer, 3D gyrometer, depth and temperature sensors, a tiny videologger (10 hrs of video) along with an acoustic transmitter and radio transmitter. This smart tag package can simply be clamped onto the shark’s dorsal fin and allow us to gather vast amounts of information about the shark, like what it sees, how deep it is, the temperature of the water it moves through, how fast it’s swimming, and then at a predetermined time it is designed to release from the shark and float to the surface where we can recover it and download all the data. These tags can be reused over and over again, allowing for different students to use them on different sharks and for different purposes.
Why We Need Smart Shark Tags
Technology like acoustic and satellite telemetry has completely opened up the field of shark research, enabling us to determine where sharks go and when. However, we’re still missing why they go where they go. To answer these questions will require more sophisticated technology, which fortunately much of it already exists. Lately, researchers have been deploying accelerometer dataloggers and video-loggers on sharks to better understand exactly what they are doing and what they may be experiencing during their journeys.
Students like Connor are learning how to configure these components to customize the technology to answer specific questions. They also learn how to handle and interpret the massive amounts of data we get back from each deployment (over 80 million data points per day).
A fully equipped large Smart Shark Tag with videologger costs $6,800 and we need two more of these systems. The packages without videologgers are much cheaper ($915) and we need three more of these systems. These packages will be deployed on adult leopard sharks, juvenile white sharks, common thresher sharks and mako sharks. A smaller version of the Smart tag, designed for smaller species such as horn sharks, swell sharks, smoothhounds and small leopard sharks provide much of the same information, but without videologger options ($2,250 each) and we need three of these systems.
Once these packages release from the animal we need to be able to find them again in order to download the data. To do this we need a radio receiver and antenna to be used on the boat to track down the expensive packages. These radio receiver and antenna are $2,175 and will be absolutely essential to make sure we can recover those valuable Smart Tags.
How You Can Help
Finding funding to purchase type of technology is very challenging, especially if the goal is to use it for student projects and training. Providing CSULB students with exposure and access to this cutting edge technology will enable them to be leaders in the field and make the next big discovery about the mysterious life of sharks. Ultimately, we seek to raise $25,000 to purchase enough packages for research projects and student training exercises. Our goal is to begin using this technology this summer on leopard sharks, juvenile white sharks and horn sharks, supporting research projects for 8 graduate students and 2 undergraduate marine biology students.