As summer begins and people spend more time in the ocean, researchers are on the verge of learning more about the mysterious predators that swim beneath the surface. On a research ship in the Atlantic Ocean, twelve miles off the coast of North Carolina, a group of scientists studied and tracked great white sharks.
“We’re seeing an ocean teeming with life that we haven’t seen since the 40s or 50s,” Chris Fisher, founder of Ocearch, told CBS News.
Ocearch has been studying and tagging great white sharks for the past decade. During this time, Fisher observed an increase in the number of great white sharks.
CBS News is covering the first instance of Ocearch marking a great white in 2012, a 15-foot shark that Fisher called at the time possibly “the most important fish we’ve ever caught in our lives.”
Ocearch has now studied more than 90 great white sharks by tracking their migration patterns online.
“We know almost everything except evidence of where they mate,” Fisher said.
CBS News watched as bait was thrown into the water, causing the sharks to swim out and surround the ship. After the approximately 15-foot-long female shark was hoisted onto the ship, researchers worked quickly, almost like a NASCAR crew, to install satellite tags, draw blood and even perform an ultrasound while the shark was asleep. They have only 15 minutes to prevent the animal from reaching the water. The team pumped seawater through the shark’s gills to make sure it wasn’t breathing.
Within minutes, samples were collected for 24 different scientific studies, including testing the shark’s hormone levels to determine if it was mating.
Chief scientist Dr. Bob Heuter believes that a healthy shark population is better for the entire planet.
“When we bring them back, we bring the ocean back into balance and reset the system so we can have better health [not only] for the sharks, but also for ourselves,” Heuter said.
“We really need to relearn how to play and enjoy a wilder, more abundant ocean,” Fisher said of having more white sharks swimming among us.
“Look at the ocean before you go in it,” Fisher added. “You don’t want to get into a bait ball that has birds and game diving on it because there will be sharks on it. Certainly, if you saw a mountain lion laying a stalk on a herd of elk, you wouldn’t Don’t walk into the middle of a herd of elk. So we need to approach water the same way we approach land.”