January 16, 2017 14:04 ET

Great White Shark George Pings off Daytona Beach, FL

George is the first mature male white shark satellite-tagged in the North Atlantic

DAYTONA BEACH, FL--(Marketwired - January 16, 2017) - Named after OCEARCH Founding Chairman and Expedition Leader Chris Fischer's father, George is a 700-pound, 10-foot shark and the first mature male great white shark OCEARCH tagged and released in the North Atlantic Ocean.

During a three-week expedition in the waters off Nantucket, MA, OCEARCH and its collaborating scientists successfully tagged, and sampled six great white sharks -- four females and two males -- including George.

Satellite-tagging a mature male is a great step in solving the puzzle of the North Atlantic Great White. "It's especially exciting that we sampled and tagged our first large males, one of which was sexually mature," said lead scientist Dr. Robert Hueter, Director of the Center for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratory. "Once a male shark has been satellite tagged, you can overlap his tracks with the female tracks and begin to understand where they meet, eventually locating the breeding areas."

In 2012, Fischer named the first satellite-tagged mature female white shark after his mom, Mary Lee. "I've been trying to name a mature male white shark after my father since 2012," Chris Fischer said. "He's done so much to help OCEARCH stay alive; it's impossible for me to explain."

In addition to satellite tags, the six sharks were fitted with a PSAT and an acoustic tag. "The fact that the first two male sharks to be satellite-tagged in the Atlantic also got PSAT tags was a real bonus for the expedition," said Dr. Simon Thorrold, Senior Scientist and Director of the Ocean Life Institute at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. "We are waiting eagerly to see how these tracks differ (or not) from the females tagged in this and previous expeditions."

As George's fin continues to break the surface, the satellite tag will transmit his location. In addition to the real-time tracking, George and the other satellite-tagged sharks will provide a broader understanding of the ecology, physiology, and behavior of the North Atlantic Great White. You can track George on the free online Global Shark Tracker and Apple and Android Apps, as well as on Twitter (@GWSharkGeorge).

"For the next several years, these tagged sharks will give us new insights into their movements, migration patterns, and preferred habitats," Fischer added. "This information will be useful for confirming the white shark breeding site in the North Atlantic."

OCEARCH is a recognized world leader in generating critical scientific data related to tracking (telemetry) and biological studies of keystone marine species such as great white and tiger sharks, in conjunction with conservation outreach and education at a measurable global scale. OCEARCH shares real-time migration data through OCEARCH's Global Shark Tracker -- In 2015, OCEARCH open-sourced the data on the Global Shark Tracker to 2.3 million users. OCEARCH also inspires current and future generations of explorers, scientists, and stewards of the ocean through its STEM Learning Program. The free STEM Curriculum, available for grades K-8 and created in partnership with Landry's, Inc. enables students to learn STEM skills while following the real-time data on the movements of their favorite sharks. The researchers OCEARCH supports work aboard the M/V OCEARCH, a 126' Cat-powered vessel equipped with a 75,000 lb. hydraulic research platform, where the ship serves as both mothership and at-sea laboratory. Scientists have approximately 15 minutes of access to live, mature sharks to conduct up to 12 studies. The sharks are measured, tissue and blood samples are collected, and satellite and acoustic transmitters are attached. Over 146 researchers from 80 regional and international institutions have partnered with OCEARCH.

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