Local professor, student join OCEARCH great white shark expedition

Jacksonville, FL — Local shark researchers are gearing up for their first expedition of 2020.

Their work is helping the world learn more about white sharks and other animals that sometimes get a bad reputation.

Great white sharks are making their move south, with more than one swimming off Florida’s coast.

Onboard the OCEARCH shark research ship is Jacksonville University professor Dr. Bryan Franks.

“We believe that the population is increasing,” Franks explained.

Franks says more sharks are spotted near beaches in the north Atlantic Ocean, sometimes just feet away from the shoreline.

“You’ve seen the marine mammal populations begin to increase, and the shark population, their big predator, seems to be increasing along with it,” Franks added.

The lift used to transport sharks can hold up to 75,000 pounds. Without it, many of the scientific samples would be impossible to gather.

Christina Lobuglio is one of Dr. Franks’ students who will be out on the water with him and other scientists.

“The amount of people that I get to see, the amount of different scientists that come on board that allow me as a student to get that practical experience that I need to work in the field,” Lobuglio said.

Last year, local teams were able to tag four sharks.

Franks says this year, teams will spend more time farther offshore. He is hoping to tag at least five more sharks, which would bring the tagged shark population to 60.

Researchers are also hoping to get an ultrasound of a pregnant great white shark.

“I’m more of an ecologist, but we’re working with microbiologists and veterinarians, and really working with other scientists allows us to make bigger breakthroughs,” Franks said.

Each shark will be fitted with at least one satellite transmitter tag and an acoustic tag.

“It allows us to track these sharks in real time,” Lobuglio said.

As the sharks’ fins break the surface, the satellite tags will transmit their locations.

For more information on OCEARCH's tracker list, click here.

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