The shortfin mako shark “Bruce” was tagged with a satellite transmitter by the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) offshore of Ocean City, MD at the end of May 2015. Bruce was tracked for 348 days and traveled more than 5,000 miles along the U.S. East Coast before the batteries in the tag died and the shark stopped reporting.
Unfortunately, in late October 2017, Bruce turned up again as he was accidentally caught in a commercial monk fish gill net in waters offshore of Rhode Island and died before he could be released. As monk fish fishermen are not permitted to land mako sharks, the fishermen retained the transmitter and dorsal fin for scientific record and returned Bruce’s body to the sea.
The transmitter was in excellent condition with little fouling. Bruce’s dorsal fin, where the transmitter was attached, was also in very good condition. Influenced partially by a GHRI study of shortfin mako shark mortality, the international governing body that manages mako sharks determined that the species is being overfished in the North Atlantic and have instituted polices to reduce the mortality of mako sharks in both recreational and commercial fisheries.
Bruce is an example of the fate of many shortfin mako sharks in the Atlantic - bycatch. GHRI is conducting research on sharks and billfish that will aid in sustainable fisheries of these species, with the goal of avoiding population declines and the availability of these animals to fishermen for many years to come.To see Bruce’s track and all of the other GHRI tagged fish, visit www.GHRItracking.org.