C&NI charter yacht Penny Mae hosts key tiger shark research project
A research team and few fishy guests made for interesting visitors aboard the Penny Mae in a landmark research project this May.
From May 11-17, 2014, the superyacht Penny Mae hosted guests of a different nature. Instead of the usual cocktails and canapés being served on deck, the crew instead found themselves passing measuring tapes and sampling kits while balancing on a semi submerged platform astern of the yacht. It was certainly a charter with a difference.
Captain Mike O’Neill and the hard working crew of Penny Mae were participating in an exciting research project: Hosting researchers from Miami University’s Rosensteil School of Marine Science, Penny Mae participated in a tagging and research expedition at Tiger Bay in the Bahamas. A key objective of the research project was to determine the impacts of tourism at the popular Tiger Bay in relation to the breeding habits of female tiger sharks. Tiger Beach is one of the few shallow banks on the edge of the Gulf Stream near the Bahamas. As such it is a key migration area for highly mobile pelagic species such as tuna and billfish. Researchers believe the area is instrumental in providing data on relationships between different marine species and tiger sharks, as well as how these may impact their breeding habits. Tagging the tiger sharks with acoustic tags and satellite transponders enables researchers to collect data on the sharks movements and habits.
The project was part of the SeaKeepers’ DISCOVERY Yachts Program which brings together leading researchers and yacht owners to facilitate scientific research. During the operation a total of 16 tiger sharks were captured and tagged. This was done using a custom made, semi-submerged floating platform to allow researchers close access to the sharks while they remained in the water, minimizing their trauma. Of those captured, one shark had been previously tagged. Researchers discovered that in the interim she had given birth and as a result this second tagging would provide them with invaluable data. On the platform researchers took morphometric measurements, blood samples and conducted ultrasounds on the female sharks to determine if any of them may be pregnant. In the area of Tiger Bay there are several hydrophone receivers that pick up signals from the acoustic tags. This then feeds data back to the researchers so that they can better determine the residency patterns, reproductive state and movements of tiger sharks, and if this is being impacted by tourism at Tiger Beach.
This research project was hailed as a great success by the researchers and Penny Mae’s crew welcomed the unique opportunity to work up close with tiger sharks. Penny Mae is the newest addition to the SeaKeeper’ DISCOVERY Yacht Fleet and is also a new addition to the C&NI charter fleet – click here for more information about chartering Penny Mae.