33,829 miles: Andy the tiger shark breaks distance record

A tiger shark monitored by the Guy Harvey Research Institute has broken the record for distance traveled by a shark tagged by the organization, covering 33,829 miles in 1,113 days.

The shark, named Andy for the angler who caught it for tagging, has traveled an average of 30 miles a day since it was tagged three years ago by the research team in Bermuda. The shark is still on the move.

“Andy’s like our version of the Energizer Bunny,” said a spokesperson for Nova Southeastern University, where the Guy Harvey Research Institute is headquartered in Florida. “[He] keeps going and going and going!”

This map shows the impressive 33,000-mile trek over three years by tiger shark ‘Andy’. – Image courtesy of the Guy Harvey Research Institute

Tiger sharks appear in tropical and warm, temperate oceans around the world. Research indicates these sharks play an important role as apex predators in marine ecosystems like shallow seagrass and coral reefs.

The institute has tagged and studied migration patterns of tiger sharks in Grand Cayman, the Bahamas, southeastern Africa and Western Australia.

More than 150 tiger, mako and Oceanic whitetip sharks around the world have been tagged by the institute with satellite tags.

The tags provide the shark’s location every time its dorsal fin breaks above the water’s surface.

The battery in tiger shark tags tends to last for long periods because the species spends less time on surface than other sharks, like makos.

While mako sharks swim impressive treks across the Atlantic, their tag batteries tend to last only one to two years because the species surfaces much more frequently than tiger sharks.

Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation Chairman Guy Harvey said the ability to monitor a shark for such a long period offers invaluable data for researchers.

“Knowing where these animals travel year after year allows us to see annual patterns and migration routes. This knowledge is fundamental to managing the species,” Mr. Harvey said.

The North Atlantic Ocean tiger shark study has allowed researchers to map tiger sharks’ seasonal migration patterns. The research institute’s findings, supported by the Bahamas National Trust and Pew Charitable Trusts, helped push the Bahamas government to declare its waters a shark sanctuary, prohibiting commercial shark harvest in 2011.

Other tagging efforts by the Guy Harvey Research Institute in the Cayman Islands monitor Oceanic whitetip sharks, and blue and white marlins. Another program monitors and takes census of southern stingrays in Grand Cayman.

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