UN brand ambassador, Fearless Fred is back and this time he’s gonna’ need a bigger boat or at least a bigger dive bag – you know, for all the shark tags.
If you are unfamiliar with FRED BUYLE, he is a free-diver and professional underwater photographer who is heavily involved in shark conservation.
Sharks are notoriously difficult to study; however advances in bio-logging and tagging technologies are starting to give scientists a better understanding than ever of what they get up to when they are in their unobservable states.
Typically shark tagging involves catching and restraining sharks and then attaching some sort of rigid tracking device to them.
These methods become restricted with bigger and more bitey, or indeed rarer species and can have a significant impact on the survival and behavior of an individual.
So there is certainly a need for less invasive methods and hardware to attach bio-logging tags to sharks while limiting the effects on them and the researchers.
Jorge Fontes, a leading marine ecologist at Okeanos-UAc marine research center, University of the Azores has been researching blue shark in the Azores islands off Portugal.
Jorge and Fred have been using their incredible free-diving skills along with some creative non-invasive attachment methods and state-of-the-art prototype data and video logging towed tags to study these mysterious and elegant creatures in the Azores archipelago.
Jorge has pioneered the investigation of their fine-scale behavior and ecology, providing a new and unprecedented look into the life of blue sharks.
One of these non-invasive tagging methods is “shark wrangling” where the free-divers place a self-releasing lasso that is retained on the shark’s pectoral fins as they constantly move forward to force water-flow through their gills, while towing a low drag torpedo shaped camera tag and sensors.
These innovative tags are rated to 2000 meters, combing multiple; a high frequency accelerometer, magnetometer, speed, depth, temperature sensors as well as HD video.
At night and bellow 100m, 2x red LEDs are triggered to allow a glimpse into the inky world of darkness that contrasts with the crystalline water above the seamounts.
Red lighting is used so as not to impact the behavior of both the sharks and their prey. After 24 or 48hrs, the lasso dissolves –
et voilŕ, the tag floats to the surface where it transmits to satellite and radio beacons used to track and recover the tags for data download and recharge for the next deployment.
As a brand ambassador, Fred likely has his pick from an assortment of UN diver's models (lucky bugger) however his signature model if you will is the HAMMERHEAD Deep Dive.
I wonder if there will now be a blue shark inspired model in the future? Probably not but would be cool!