If you surf, then you know that Maui is one of the top places on the planet to go catch some serious waves. This year, however, Maui has received a large amount of bad press, which is putting some, not so hardcore, surfers and water lovers, off. After an unprecedented spike in shark attacks this year, including one which led to the death of 20-year-old German tourist Jana Lutteropp, the island appears to be for some visitors at least, more terrifying than tranquil.
For all of you not overly concerned by the shark attacks over the last year, this new website will be of little interest, but for those of you who wish to search for that perfect wave but are constantly looking out for Jaws, then please read on. The holiday tourist season is almost upon Maui and a new website aims to calm the nerves of water enthusiasts.
The website, which is run by Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System, allows you to “Pick a Shark” and then observe its movements around the islands. The data comes from seven tiger sharks which were tagged on their dorsal fins with satellite transmitters which are capable of sending time stamped data. The sharks were tagged last month by a University of Hawaii research team.
In addition to serving the public, the project has a specific scientific purpose: “This information,” according to PacIOOS, “will help determine whether sharks around Maui are more resident than they are around the other Hawaiian Islands and whether they exhibit greater use of inshore habitats (bays) than in other locations.”
While seven is still a relatively small sample size, it is comforting to know that the biggest shark, a 14.2 foot-long female, was spotted by the Big Island and hasn’t been around Maui since Oct. 23. The researchers are hoping to tag more sharks in the future, to compile a better dataset of these powerful animals.
The site does have its drawback however, and by no means is it meant as a warning system, nor does it provide real time data. In fact, there may be over a mile in error associated with any given point and the locations are only intermittent as the shark’s dorsal fin must breach the surface water in order for the transmitter to register the data. No two sharks are the same, but some sharks seem to breach more often than others do.
[Image via standupzone]