First in the state: Marine scientists deploy a shark detection buoy off the Maine coastline

“Sharks belong here and by doing this work we hope we can help their appreciation for these animals.”
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 6:39 PM EDT
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BIDDEFORD, Maine (WABI) - A team of marine scientists at the University of New England deployed a shark detection buoy on the coast of Maine on Tuesday. It’s the first of its kind in the state.

“We do think that this adds an extra layer of awareness for the local community, in particular the lifeguards, so that if a shark is detected they’ll have advanced notice to keep an eye out,” UNE Assistant Professor John Mohan said.

The buoy has a sensor that detects any tagged sharks as they pass through the area. It was placed between Old Orchard Beach and Ferry Beach State Park. Others devices off the Maine coast collect and archive shark data, but this is the first one in the state that’s outfitted to send real-time alerts about shark activity. It will work in concert with similar devices off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

“They’ve been doing this for quite a long time, so we’re just adding these new systems in Maine to expand the range of these systems in terms of getting real-time notice of tagged white sharks,” Mohan said.

In the long run, this will create an important data set that researchers can use to track ecosystem changes.

“By establishing this array and deploying it every year, I think we’ll be able to start to look at temperature-related shifts and distribution of different fish as it may relate to climate change,” Mohan said.

Sharks may pose a risk to humans but they are crucial to the environment. This buoy will help track any changes by monitoring shark levels offshore.

“Seeing all the important organisms in the environment is definitely very helpful and sharks play a really key role in keeping the environment really healthy,” UNE grad student Ben Lafrenire said.

The team members who deployed the buoy hope the project will inspire a greater appreciation for sharks. People can view the local shark activity through an application called “Sharktivity.”

“Keeping us as informed as possible will definitely help both humans and sharks coexist here in Maine,” Lafrenire said.

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