Atlantic Shark Institute kicking off 2021 field research season
The ASI will be using a variety of equipment to track sharks off the southern New England coast in order to understand their population and movements
By: Tim Studebaker
SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WLNE) – The Atlantic Shark Institute is gearing up for their 2021 shark research field season, studying shark populations off the southern New England coast.
Jon Dodd is the Executive Director of the Atlantic Shark Institute. He says, “They tell us if they’re getting enough breathing room, they’re getting enough space, they have enough food, if the climate is to their liking.”
The Institute studies several species of sharks that frequent the waters off Rhode Island during the summer months using a system of acoustic receivers and underwater video systems. They’ll also head out onto the water.
Dodd says, “We have to catch them. We have to tag them. We have to sex them, size them, weigh them, and let them go, so that we can then track them.”
According to Dodd, sharks play an important role in the ecosystem offshore, but they’re slow to mature and reproduce which means their numbers can easily dwindle.
Dodd says, “I can break it down by decade and see average number of catches, and it drops every single year which is disconcerting.”
He says some of that decrease is accidental, but it’s also the result of unsustainable and unethical killing of sharks for food. He says the research the institute does not only helps support the shark population, it also urges lawmakers to protect them.
Dodd says, “It’s important research, and we do more every year, and we get better at it every year, so it’s important for the sharks and for the environment.”
To learn more, visit their website: https://www.atlanticsharkinstitute.org/
© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2021