Ocearch to reveal ‘plans for 2019 and beyond’ during Nova Scotia trip this month

by Keith Corcoran

Ocearch, the U.S.-based non-profit group best known for tagging and tracking great white sharks, is returning to Lunenburg County this month to give civic politicians insight into its 2019 plans and offer an overview of its fruitful 2018 Nova Scotia expedition.

The group's founder and expedition leader, Chris Fischer, confirmed to LighthouseNOW in an email the organization is coming this way in late April to review "what we learned and are learning" from the expedition last year.

Last year's South Shore foray resulted in six white sharks being caught, equipped with tracking technology, and released after scientists on board M/V Ocearch collected samples for research projects.

Ocearch, during the trip northbound this month, will talk about "the plans for 2019 and beyond," Fischer said.

It's expected the organization will meet with Fisheries and Oceans Canada about permits for another Nova Scotia expedition later this year.

Ocearch, with its a re-purposed 38-metre crab vessel-turned-mobile research base, led a three-week-long expedition between September and October 2018, which included probing the white shark's migratory patterns and trying to zero in on a potential white shark mating site in the north Atlantic.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada permitted Ocearch at the time to tag up to 20 white sharks off the coast of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. The size requirement for tagging was adjusted on at least one occasion during the journey.

Each tagged animal received names and social media handles so web surfers can follow online the predator's travels.

Nova, a three-and-a-half metre, 500 kilogram mature male - the organization's first tagged shark in Canadian waters - was tagged September 24, 2018 near Upper Kingsburg and was named "after the amazing people of Nova Scotia."

Luna, a four-and-a-half metre sexually mature female white shark tagged and released Thanksgiving Day near West Ironbound Island in Lunenburg County, is named for Lunenburg. Luna is the second largest shark Ocearch has ever tagged in the north Atlantic (969 kilograms).

Hal, 3.8 metres and weighing 644 kilograms is named for Halifax. Others were named after a corporate sponsor, a famous explorer and the mother of the Ocearch vessel's captain.

Ocearch also engaged in public outreach and education events in Lunenburg County and Halifax in 2018.

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