Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Farallons White Sharks, Research and Duplicity of Effort

There's a small brush war going on right now between two white shark tagging teams at the Farallon islands off the coast of San Francisco.

We covered it obliquely this week.

After some consideration I have come to ask the question "why are we re-tagging a large number of animals at the Farallons?"

Since 2000 a team comprised of the PRBO, U.C Davis and Stanford University or TOPPS have set close to 179 sat tags in animals in and around the Farallons. For the most part this effort has been a resounding success and with over eight years at this site the TOPPS team would be considered "resident researchers."

So when ambitious plans for a much more invasive tagging technique (spot tags) were unveiled by a completely new tagging team, who had little to no experience with the white sharks at the Farallon islands, many became curious, some became outraged.

We became curious this week as well. We support any and all white shark research as long as it is done by well funded professionals with real and lasting research goals. But the question remains, with over 179 sat tags in place and well defined movement patterns established what data could the introduction of more tracking and movement tags deliver?

Additionally, if new data could be acquired, why was the TOPPS team not intimately involved?

Unanswered question for now as this new team, with NOAA's blessings, continues to set a new series of invasive tags at the islands this week.

Patric Douglas CEO

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