Scientists discover ‘world’s largest’ seagrass forest – by strapping cameras to sharks

Tiger sharks are known to be aggressive. The massive creatures that can grow to over 16 feet they are fierce predators who are fearless of everything A recent study found that, while other shark species were able to escape coastal waters during violent storms the tiger sharks “didn’t even move”.

However, they recently have an exciting new job that may improve their image as marine scientists.

In an effort to determine the size of seagrass meadows in Bahamas Researchers connected cameras and trackers to their dorsal fins on tigersharks. This will allow them access to hours of footage from the ocean floor.

The information they gathered showed what researchers believe is the world’s biggest known seagrass ecosystem, which covers nearly 92,000 sq km (35,000 square miles) of Caribbean seabed. The discovery expands the of the global seagrass ecosystem by over 40%, as per the report released by Nature Communications on 1 November.

“This study shows how far we’re from exploring the oceans, and not just deep as well as in shallow zones,” said the report’s co-authorProf. Carlos Duarte, of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

Seagrass meadows have been unstudied. Estimates of their global extent vary widely from 160,000 sq km up to 1.6m square kilometers. It is a huge challenge to map them meadows that are in cloudy or deep waters can’t always be seen by planes or satellites. Likewise, smaller ones may be solitary or interspersed with other marine plants , making difficult to recognize.

The seagrass meadows must to be “ground authenticated” or verified by someone – or someone – at the location. However, sending divers on human vessels to take pictures of vast expanses of the ocean’s floor can be costly logistically complicated and slow.

Tiger sharks tell a different story. They are extremely mobile and capable of reaching deep depths they can travel a long distance and spend a significant amount of time in meadows with seagrass. They also are not burdened by human-imposed constraints, like the need for an aircraft, needing to come up frequently and relying on the calm sea conditions.

In the years 2016-2020, scientists set up camera cameras, outfitted with radio and satellite tags, onto 7 sharks’ dorsal fins. They caught the sharks using circle hook drumlinesthat hook into the sharks jaws. This is the “safest method to catch sharks” and doesn’t cause permanent harm, according to Oliver Shipley, a senior researcher for Beneath the Waves, a non-profit organization that studies marine science and co-author on the report.

The animals were reeled in to attach the cameras, an operation that Shipley described as akin to similar to the “Nascar pit crew”. It took around 10 minutes to secure each camera with bright orange biodegradable cable ties as well as an evaporating time-released swivel. After an hour, the swivel started to degrade in sea water and the entire package floated onto the surface, which scientists were able to be able to pick it up.