CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The local community was recently invited to tour a unique research vessel built for the safe capture, tagging and release of large sharks. The Harte Research Institute (HRI) for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi teamed up with leading shark-tagging nonprofit OCEARCH to build the most extensive shark-tracking program in the Gulf of Mexico region.
As a part of the expedition, OCEARCH opened their vessel, the M/V OCEARCH, for public tours on Monday, Oct. 12, at the Solomon P. Ortiz Center. OCEARCH expedition members and HRI scientists, Dr. Greg Stunz and Dr. Matt Ajemian, were present during the event.
The vessel features a unique lift system that safely lifts large sharks from the water, giving scientists unprecedented access to the animal to efficiently attach tags, draw blood, and assess reproductive status with ultrasound technology, among other scientific work.
The vessel, which departed for a two-week shark tagging expedition on Saturday, Oct. 10, will carry a crew of scientists from across the Gulf, led by HRI’s Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation (CSSC), allowing scientists to generate previously unattainable data on critical shark species, including Hammerhead, Tiger and Mako sharks.
The expedition, largely supported by Caterpillar Inc. as part of a socially-innovative, multi-year partnership to impact ocean sustainability, began in Galveston, Texas, and will continue through Friday, Oct. 30, ending in Morgan City, La. The expedition is also generously supported by HRI's Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation, Texas State Aquarium, Cheniere Energy, Coastal Conservation Association-Texas, Shell Oil and Gas, Orion Drilling, H.C. Weil Properties, Inc., and the Ed Rachal Foundation.
Follow the OCEARCH expedition by accessing the near-real time, free online Global Shark Tracker or by downloading the Global Shark Tracker App available for Apple and Android platforms. Follow the expedition on social media platforms with #ExpeditionGoMex.
In addition, Tuesday, Oct. 13, marks the opening of the new Texas State Aquarium exhibit, “Saving Sharks: Where Science and Sharks Meet.” A collaboration between the Texas State Aquarium, OCEARCH, HRI, and the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the exhibit showcases shark science, conservation and local tagging and tracking research aimed at better understanding the lives of Gulf sharks. OCEARCH Expedition Leader and Founder Chris Fischer presented to groups of Coastal Bend-area school children on opening day.