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Published On: Fri, May 23rd, 2014

Sharks and fish tagged with sensors to help scientists predict hurricanes

Fifty sharks, tuna, tarpon and billfish have been tagged and fitted with satellite-linked sensors to reportedly help track water temperatures, a method that they claim will help improve hurricane forecasting says a new report.

Hurricane Isaac NASA photo

Hurricane Isaac NASA photo

“The fish act as biological sensors,” said marine biologist Jerald Ault. “The fish dive, so they create a vertical picture of what the water temperature looks like.”

The devices allegedly will assist researchers at the University of Miami who have tagged a total of 750 animals in the past 10 years to record water temperature and salinity at different depths.

Scientists claim that the strength of a hurricane depends largely on the amount of warm water it hits as it forms, the idea is that the data from sharks could help weather forecasters plot more accurately just how big a storm may get by telling them how hot the water is.

They were first used in 2001 and over the years scientists realized that the fish were gravitating to water measuring around 79 degrees.

“The data that the tags were providing could provide higher resolution data than the forecasters were getting,” Ault said.

The team at UM’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science admit that it’s not a perfect science yet, but they say using animals as data gatherers has great possibilities.

“They are usually tagged in the area below the first dorsal fin, it’s an area that has very few blood cells and generally not a lot of nerve tissue,” said John Carlson from NOAA.

Many of the sharks’ routes over the past few years can already be seen using GPS tracking linked to Google Earth at the school’s website.

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- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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