How Sharks Could Help Predict Hurricanes
Scientists have embarked on a remarkable new project to use shark and large marine predators as biological sensors in the hopes that they could help us predict the formation and course of potentially dangerous hurricanes.
Researchers from the University of Miami have tagged a total of 750 marine animals in the past ten years, all to track the temperature and salinity of sea waters at different depths. Earlier this year though, the researchers noticed something special about the data — the tagged marine life gravitated toward water that was about 79 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, which is the temperature at which hurricanes form.
Hurricane strength largely depends on how much warm water it has access to. In very simple terms, the hotter the water, the stronger the storm can become.
The tagged marine life, by gravitating to these waters, can help scientists get an overview of sea temperatures as we go into hurricane season, particularly because the tagged animals (scientists are currently monitoring about 50 sharks, tuna, tarpon and billfish) all dive. That means that when they later surface and trigger the tag to relay data via satellites back to the team, the scientists receive a "vertical picture" of what sea temperatures look like.