Expedition White Shark, a new app for the iPhone and iPad, allows users to track a dozen of the ocean’s top predators tagged with electronic devices that transmit location and other data to satellites orbiting overhead. Dr. Michael Dormeier, a marine biologist who heads the nonprofit research group Marine Conservation Science Institute in Fallbrook, California, explains the project as “a means of engaging the public in an interesting and high-tech way, to instill a better understanding” of the misunderstood species.
For $3.99 — a portion of which helps to fund the MCSI — users can track the whereabouts of the sharks, and read the stories of tagged individuals, learn facts about the species and more.
SPORT DIVER: What are your goals for the Expedition White Shark app?
MICHAEL DORMEIER: It was released as a means of engaging the public to instill a better understanding regarding great white sharks; understanding is the first step toward stewardship. For those who watched me tag these sharks on the National Geographic Channel, the app is a great way to see what happened to those very same sharks.
SD: What are some things you’ve learned from the tracking program?
MD: We’ve learned that adult white sharks spend more than half of their time in the open ocean, far from any of the small marine mammals that we consider so important to their survival. In an expedition to an offshore zone that we call the Shared Offshore Foraging Area, all we found were sperm whales and spawning squid. Perhaps the white sharks are eating squid in the open ocean, or maybe they are eating other fish that are eating squid.
SD: What is it like being in the water with such an amazing creature?
MD: Despite my familiarity with great whites, I respect them enough as a predator to let them have their space. Cage-free diving occurs regularly at places like Guadalupe Island, despite the fact that it is illegal. If an accident happens, I am most concerned about negative publicity impacting the shark population.