Sharks Save Human Lives

reefshark NOAA

Reef Shark Courtesy of NOAA

Well, maybe not yet, but the day may come when sharks–and tarpon and other big ocean fish– help hurricane forecasters predict where a hurricane will form. That’s because one of the key pieces of information that tells meteorologists if conditions are right for a hurricane is water temperature, and big fish like it warm, just like hurricanes.

It’s difficult for meteorologists to get good information about water temperature over an area as wide as the Atlantic Ocean, but that’s exactly the kind of information marine scientists have been collecting from the sensors they’ve attached to the fins of tarpon and sharks. Of course, marine biologists and meteorologists don’t always go to the same science conferences, so it took a random discussion for them to put the pieces together.

Two guys, one who studies hurricanes and one who studies fish, got to talking one day while playing golf and discovered this: Sharks and tarpon like to travel along a line of water that’s about 79 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s exactly the temperature at which hurricanes can begin to form. Any cooler, and they just can’t seem to pump up enough energy.

It’s going to take some time to fine tune their collaboration, but these guys are now looking into the possibility that those real-time temperature sensors the marine scientist is using on his fish might provide some great data to help the hurricane guy forecast the next big tropical storm.

Read more about it here:

WHAT’S YOUR SHARK PERSONALITY?- take the quiz, and then find out more about what the Pew Charitable trust is doing to protect sharks.