Shark Robot Roams the Pacific
Researchers Launch New Effort to Track Great Whites and Other Species
by Simone Rogers, age 16
Scientists at Stanford University in California are sending out a floating robot to track great white sharks in the Pacific.
“Here we are in the 21st century and scientists have just put a rover on Mars. And we don’t know what is going on in the oceans,” said Barbara Block, a marine science professor at Stanford who is in charge of the project.
Also known as the “wave glider,” the robot looks like a yellow surfboard and moves at less than walking speed. In an eight-day test, it detected 19 individual sharks 200 times. With solar panels above and a wave power system below, the seven-foot-long machine picks up signals from 1,000 feet away in the ocean. The signals are then sent to researchers by way of a satellite transmitter.
The glider only picks up signals from animals that have already been tagged by scientists. These sharks have with tiny battery powered acoustic transmitters that beep once every two minutes. Block noted that thousands of creatures carry the tags. The data from the glider will supplement data provided by buoys that are placed in various positions on the ocean floor to monitor the movement patterns of great white sharks and other tagged sea creatures.
The researchers are setting up an app called, “Shark Net,” allowing anyone to track sharks. Researchers hope to extend their observation down the west coast of the United States, which is rich in marine wildlife.