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Sharks could serve as ocean watchdogs

Tagged with sensors, toothy fish gather weather and climate data in remote Pacific

GO FISH  Fashioned with sophisticated sensors, hammerhead sharks (shown) can collect valuable data for weather and climate simulations as they take deep nightly dives and long trips through the Pacific.

CHICAGO — The same gray triangles that peek above ocean waves to terrify beachgoers could prove a boon for climate scientists. By strapping sophisticated sensors to sharks’ otherwise ominous fins, researchers can now collect temperature and other environmental data from the far reaches of the Pacific.

Maintaining devices that monitor conditions in the ocean is expensive, says marine scientist Kim Holland of the University of Hawaii at Manoa; a crucial network of buoys in the tropical Pacific is currently operating at reduced capacity due to budget problems. Using sharks as ocean surveyors could provide a new source of data for scientists developing weather and climate simulations.

 “Sending sharks to do the heavy lifting makes a lot of sense,” Holland said.

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