A floating robot has been put in place to track great white sharks in the Pacific as part of efforts to understand the immense marine predators.
The “glider waves,” which from outside looks like a yellow surfboard, shark picks up signals from more than 330 meters deep in the ocean and send their positions to researchers via satellite transmissions.
Scientists have only a vague knowledge of where great white sharks swim, shown as dreadful murderers in movies like “Jaws”. The new robot will allow a better understanding of their movements.
“Here we are in the XXI century, when scientists have put a robot on Mars, and we have not understood what is happening in the oceans,” said Barbara Block, a professor of marine sciences at Stanford University in California who is in charge of the project.
“We will send a wave glider out there to keep the sharks,” he told Reuters.In a trial period of eight days, the glider, manufactured by California-based Liquid Robotics and moves at a slower rate than a person walking, made 200 detections of 19 different sharks.
The glider, about two meters long with solar panels on top and a wave energy (generated by the movement of the waves) at the bottom, it could also give clues to some other creatures classified ranging from makos the tuna and salmon.
Can detect only creatures that have been previously tagged by scientists with a small transmitter that operates from battery and beeps every two minutes. Thousands of creatures carry transmitters, Block said.
The glider, and listening buoys anchored to fixed positions of the sea, were built in a previous project for the labeling of predators in the Pacific, as part of an international census of marine life between 2000 and 2010.
Block said that scientists already knew that the great white shark wanders along the U.S. Pacific coast, often to get to Hawaii.