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OCEARCH Embarks on Expedition Atlantic Canada

·5-min read

Bringing Unprecedented White Shark Research Back to Atlantic Canada for the 5th Year in a Row

Park City, Utah, Aug. 17, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- OCEARCH is returning to Atlantic Canada to bring unprecedented white shark research back for the fifth year in a row. Alongside 45 collaborators from 30 research organizations, Expedition Atlantic Canada will collect data for 25 different research projects and help increase the sample size of their Western North Atlantic White Shark Study in an effort to reach their goal of 100 white sharks sampled, tagged and released in this region.

OCEARCH’s Western North Atlantic White Shark Study is the most comprehensive and advanced study of white sharks in the world and includes full health assessments of each shark including reproduction, prey identification, microbiome studies, population genetics, movement studies through the use of four different tags, and more. This study is part of OCEARCH’s overall mission to use innovative research methods and open collaboration to help return the world's oceans to balance and abundance.

Before OCEARCH embarked on their first expedition in Atlantic Canada in 2018, many thought white sharks were rare in this region, but after 36 sharks have been studied in Canadian waters, OCEARCH has helped reveal this region as a vital summer hotspot for white sharks at a variety of life stages.

"We've learned that the Western North Atlantic population of white sharks rely on this region as an important summer feeding ground. We've shown this species is more abundant in Atlantic Canada than previously thought, and we've seen that more than half of our white sharks tagged off the southeast U.S. travel to Canada in the summer, returning year after year. The energy-rich food of the region--abundant prey such as gray seals and tuna--provides the fuel that white sharks need for their long winter trek back to the southeast U.S. Armed with this new knowledge, we return to Atlantic Canada for our fifth consecutive summer expedition, to complete our sample size of 100 white sharks to answer 100 questions about the biology and conservation of this keystone species in the Western North Atlantic,” states OCEARCH Chief Scientist Dr. Bob Hueter.

Over the past five years OCEARCH has focused their research efforts in Canada on the waters off Nova Scotia, but this year they’re expanding their research to the waters off the Magdalen Islands (Îles de la Madeleine) and Newfoundland in an effort to increase knowledge on the white sharks in Atlantic Canada. Both areas have been visited by OCEARCH-tagged sharks in the past and could help uncover additional white shark habitats in Atlantic Canada.

“Expedition Atlantic Canada is really exciting. The first portion of this expedition is going to be in the Cape Breton area where we’ve seen sharks before and we hope to add to our sample size. Then the exploration begins. We start in the Magdalen Islands, where several of our sharks have been, to see what the density of sharks in that area is. Then we head to Newfoundland. Regularly we see that sharks return to the same summer and fall foraging areas so it’s possible in Newfoundland, a place we have not yet explored, there are population components of sharks that have yet to be studied. This will help us better understand and solve the Western North Atlantic White Shark Puzzle,” explains OCEARCH Founder & Expedition Leader Chris Fischer.

Expedition Atlantic Canada will help expand OCEARCH’s knowledge about the white sharks that spend their summer and fall in Canadian waters and aims to increase the study’s sample size, with a focus on collecting data for adult and subadult animals. OCEARCH’s science team has a target of sampling a total of 100 sharks in the Western North Atlantic and have just 16 animals left to meet this goal.

The presence of sharks is a sign of a healthy and abundant ocean. OCEARCH aims to maintain this health in the waters off of Atlantic Canada by sharing their research and data to help guide responsible conservation and public safety efforts. The organization hopes to equip the Canadian people with the information they need to continue to have a healthy relationship with their ocean and the sharks that call it home.

Expedition Atlantic Canada takes place from Tuesday, August 30 to Thursday, September 22 and will depart from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The public is encouraged to follow along with the expedition in real time on social media (@ocearch) and online at ocearch.org.

About OCEARCH

OCEARCH is a global non-profit organization conducting unprecedented research on our ocean's giants in order to help scientists collect previously unattainable data in the ocean. We’re on a mission to return our world’s oceans to balance and abundance through fearless innovations in critical scientific research, education, outreach, and policy using unique collaborations of individuals and organizations in the U.S and abroad. OCEARCH is recognized as a world leader in generating scientific data related to tracking (telemetry) and biological studies of keystone marine species such as great white sharks, tiger sharks, and more. OCEARCH provides a free open-sourced Global Shark Tracker® and app that allows scientists, educators, and fans alike to learn about the never before documented movements of our ocean animals. The non-profit organization provides a free STEM education curriculum that enables students to learn STEM skills while promoting environmental awareness. OCEARCH’s research is proudly supported by Costa Sunglasses, SeaWorld, Yeti, Ulysse Nardin, Blundstone, Cisco Brewers, Jefferson’s Bourbon and our educational home Jacksonville University. OCEARCH is now embarking on our 44th research expedition. Learn more at ocearch.org. Additional OCEARCH Expedition Atlantic Canada materials can be found here and an assortment of video and photos for the press from Expedition Nova Scotia 2021 can be found here.

CONTACT: Paige Finney OCEARCH 704-681-1790 pfinney@ocearch.org