Sharks play an essential rol in the health of our oceans


Ocean Tracking Network: global tracking of sharks, rays and many other sea creatures

Conservation is always a joint effort. Protecting a species in one country is useless when it is slaughtered in another one. Protecting adult individuals will be ineffective if their breeding grounds are left without protection. Migratory species cross borders and trans-boundary waters. Conservation of these species will only be possible if it is known where sharks and rays go to mate and breed and where they spent their time during the various stages of their life. This is possible through tagging.
Worldwide, there have been thousands of tagging projects. Unfortunately, not all scientists share their data, sometimes causing (expensive) duplication of projects and delay in the conservation of elasmobranchs.

A great white shark with an acoustic tag (picture by Peter Verhoog, Dutch Shark Society)

An excellent development in this field is the Ocean Tracking Network, in which marine species are followed through acoustic tagging. Every participating, supported scientist has to share the info: data are transmitted to a the scientist’s own and the central network computer. The network covers more and more regions and will be extended continuously. It can follow tiny damsels, but also whales and large marine mammals.

The data are collected with various methods (see diagram).


Sharks are now tracked in South Africa, Australia (Perth Line and Tasmania) and the Azores. VR4 test deployments are planned for the Strait of Gibraltar. Full deployment (Morocco to Spain) is slated for early 2013. In the future, the Ocean Tracking Network will be extended along all African Coasts and will slowly make its way up to Northern Europe.


Worldwide, there are tracked movements of marine species in the Arctic, East Indian Ocean, the West Indian Ocean, the Great Lakes, the Mid Pacific, the Northeast Pacific, Northwest Atlantic, and the Southwest Pacific.

Tracked critically endangered species are a.o. the bluefin tuna and the eel.

Watch this clip to see how the network works:

You can read more about tagging and tracking on our website:
More info on the Ocean Tracking Network:

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