Were you able to watch the National Geographic special, "White Shark Expedition," on Monday night -- and if so, what do you think of the methods utilized by researcher Michael Domeier at remote Guadalupe Island off Baja California?
If you live in the Bay Area, you might also have viewed an ABC News program that was spawned by an incident involving Domeier's team using the same methods at the Farallon Islands off San Francisco. The program featured experts who were critical of the methods, which involve using a team of anglers and a large baited hook attached to a line with buoys.
(There's also a film crew, hence the National Geographic special and related episodes to air next summer.)
The hooked shark struggles until it's completely worn out. It's then lifted onto a platform, where a sophisticated tracking tag is bolted into its dorsal fin. A large hose is used to flush water through the shark's gills, so it can breathe throughout a process that can take 20 minutes.
The sharks usually are hooked in the corner of the mouth -- because of the 24-inch circle hook's design --but in at least one case at the Farallon Islands a shark had to be set free with part of the hook lodged deep in its throat.
The specialized tags have a life span of up to six years, providing real-time data and pinpointing precise locations of migrating sharks. They're important, Domeier says, for researchers seeking a clearer picture of these mysterious predators' life history.