With all this talk of next-generation consoles, it’s time we took a pause and considered the next-generation of more out there hardware: like the next-gen of shark tracking robots that will help us understand how reclusive species like the Great White, actually live.
If you’ve watched shows like Shark Week, where the awesomeness of the sharks themselves is often overshadowed by the pre-teen like, prima donna bitching between the teams involved in the show, you’ll know that one of the methods used in the past to track giant sharks, was to pin a tracking tag to its dorsal fin. Whenever the shark surfaced, this tag would link up with a satellite and track the fish’s position. Of course this has down sides, as the activity of the shark while it’s submerged – and ironically, where a shark spends most of its time – is completely untracked.
Enter biologists Chris Lowe and Chris Clark, from California State University Long Beach and Harvey Mudd College in Claremont respectively. These gentlemen have spent the past three years developing a robotic computer that will give us a much better idea of what some of the most elusive predators in the world live like.
Robots like the one used in this instance, have begun showing up all over the world, following different marine life – but this is the first one designed for tracking sharks. It hones in on a tag attached to said shark and follows at a distance of 500 metres, so as not to affect the shark’s natural behaviour.
As Wired describes, two hydrophone receivers pick up auditory signals from the tag for positioning and other sensors on the robot keep track of water temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity and other water specifications. All of this information is used to build up a map of the Great White’s stomping grounds. Cameras will also pick up what they can, though at the distance this thing travels, the shark is unlikely to be in shot very often.
The test run of the technology has already tracked a leopard shark off the coast of Los Angeles, so this summer the team is planning to use it to track a juvenile great white.
KitGuru Says: This is badass. We’re one step closer to having real footage of the end scene from Megashark vs Giant Octopus. Less footage will be recycled too, which will make it infinitely better.