David Shiffman, Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy student
Yesterday, during the course of sampling for our ongoing shark population survey, the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program (RJD) team caught a great white shark estimated at 10-11 feet in length. The shark was caught east of Islamorada in the Florida Keys, in approximately 100 feet of water.
The RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program has caught, sampled, tagged, and released thousands of sharks in the Florida Keys, the Everglades, and the Bahamas, but this was the first great white shark we’ve ever caught in Florida. Our lab has a long-term great white shark project in South Africa.
As the RJD team was reeling in the shark, it snapped the line and swam away. No samples or measurements were taken and no tag was attached.
About great white sharks
Great white sharks are widely distributed throughout the world’s oceans and are highly migratory.
Though they generally prefer colder water, they have been seen in south Florida before (infrequently).
Great white sharks are estimated to grow to approximately 6 meters, a little less than 20 feet, which means that this 10-11 foot shark that our lab captured is a juvenile.
About the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program
The RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program at the University of Miami is a joint initiative of the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy and the Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science.
The mission of the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program is to advance both marine conservation and scientific literacy through cutting-edge scientific research and outreach opportunities for students, particularly those from underserved communities. In 2012 alone, we took more than 1,000 high school students out into the field with us to learn about the marine environment and participate in our long-term shark population survey.
We’ve published dozens of peer-reviewed scientific papers, including several on great white shark biology and behavior (in South Africa). All of our papers are freely available here.
We are currently collecting data for eleven scientific research projects, which you can read about here.
One of our research projects involves tracking the migration patterns (using satellite tags) of several local shark species including bull sharks, tiger sharks, and both great and scalloped hammerhead sharks. You can see the migration patterns using Google Earth here.
100% of our research is non-lethal and minimally invasive to the sharks. To learn more about the procedures and techniques we have in place to minimize stress to the sharks, click here. We fish using drumlines, which allow the sharks to still swim (and breathe) after being caught, and use circle hooks.
For media inquiries please contact RSMAS communications director Barbra Gonzalez