SHARKS AND SHORELINES
Subject: Science
Grade level: 6-10
Purpose and Overview:
This set of activities is divided into three parts. In Part 1, through a short video and reading, students learn
about lemon sharks, their impact on the mangrove ecosystem, and the threats to sharks worldwide. In Part
2, students partake in a quest to learn about great white sharks and their prey through a series of
interactive, online components including real-time data and visualizations. In this activity they identify a
shark to track online and then examine the shark’s path and make inferences about where it goes and why.
In Part 3, students engage in an outdoor activity designed to teach them about predator/prey
relationships in a marine environment. Students assume the roles of predator and prey and through several
iterations of the game; they will understand how populations of predators and prey are interconnected.
Time:
 Part 1: One to two 45-minute class periods
 Part 2: Two 45-minute class periods
 Part 3: Two to three 45-minute class periods
Introduction:
Through the use of tagging technologies, scientists
have been able to track the paths of many marine
predators like sharks, seals, and tuna. This
information is vital in the conservation of marine
animals because it allows scientists to understand
potential threats to species where human activities
like fishing may overlap migration routes, breeding
grounds, and feeding grounds. Additionally, by
collecting tracking data on marine animals, scientists
can begin to build a picture of the whole marine
ecosystem.
In the Sharks and Shorelines | EARTH A New Wild
video associated with this set of activities, shark
© Janet Haas for The Nature Conservancy
tracking data allowed scientists to identify one of
the breeding grounds for the lemon shark: shallow,
coastal waters. Scientists determined that these sharks return to the same place every year to give birth.
The presence of the sharks controls grazing behavior and ultimately keeps marine herbivores like
manatees and sea turtles from overgrazing the mangrove habitat. When the mangroves are intact, they
have a role in protecting the coasts from storm surges and coastal erosion. This predator-prey relationship
is vital to keeping the mangrove ecosystem strong, which in turn helps keep human habitats from being
ruined in the event of a hurricane or powerful tropical storm.
1|Sharks and Shorelines – Teacher Guide
Part 1: Lemon Sharks and Mangroves
Grades: 6-10
Subject: Science
Purpose: The purpose of this activity is to introduce students to the role that lemon sharks play as
predators in a marine ecosystem and to relate the behavior of lemon sharks to the preservation of the
mangrove forest and the protection of our coasts. Students will also learn about the threats to sharks
worldwide and how tagging helps in conservation efforts.
Time: One to two 45-minute class periods
Materials:
 Teacher - computer, internet access, LCD projector
 Sharks and Shorelines | EARTH A New Wild video (3:56 min)
URL: https://vimeo.com/116273821
 Copies of student worksheet for Part 1 (located at the end of this document)
 Small whiteboards or sheets of drawing paper and markers
 Student copies of the National Geographic article “Blue Waters of the Bahamas”
URL: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/print/2007/03/bahamian-sharks/holland-text
 Optional – student access to computers to explore interactive content for the shark ecosystem
URL: http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/5aeed659-7f0b-417f-81d95f2e9c747644/ecosystem-explorer-earth-a-new-wild/
Objectives:
The student will….
 List the ocean herbivores that can impact a coastal ecosystem.
 Describe how sharks maintain the coastal ecosystem through intimidation behavior.
 Identify how the tagging of sharks helps scientists to learn more about their behavior.
 Relate how tagging data improves shark conservation efforts.
 Describe how humans are impacted by the sharks’ presence.
 Illustrate the threats to sharks worldwide.
 Predict what would happen if sharks, an apex predator, were removed from an ecosystem.
 Evaluate how humans can help conserve sharks.
Next Generation Science Standards:
Disciplinary Core Ideas:
 LS2A Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
 LS2B Cycle of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems
 LS2C Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience
 LS4D Biodiversity and Humans
Crosscutting Concepts:
 Cause and Effect
 Stability and Change
2|Sharks and Shorelines – Teacher Guide
Performance Expectations:
Middle School
 MS-LS2-1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on
organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
 MS-LS2-2. Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple
ecosystems.
High School
 HS-LS2-6. Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain
relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result
in a new ecosystem.
Vocabulary:
Bycatch: fish or other organisms caught while actually fishing for another species or target fish.
Ecosystem: a biological community of organisms interacting with the biotic (living) and abiotic (nonliving)
components of their environment.
Finning: refers to the removal of shark fins while the remainder of the living shark is discarded into the
ocean. Shark fins are in high demand in some parts of the world for use in shark fin soup and
traditional cures, in which shark fins are an ingredient. Because fins are worth a lot of money
compared to the rest of the shark, fishermen can collect more fins if they harvest them while at sea and
throw the rest of the shark overboard. Sharks with their fins removed cannot swim and will eventually
perish.
Herbivore: an animal that eats plants.
Longline fishing: a deep-sea, commercial fishing technique in which a really long line (often several miles
long) with baited hooks spaced at intervals is used to catch fish; also called longlining. Longline fishing
can have serious consequences for sea turtles and sharks when they are caught as bycatch. Sea birds
are vulnerable when the longlines are set because they are attracted to the bait.
Mangrove: a tree or shrub that grows in coastal swamps that are flooded at high tide. Mangroves can
protect coastlines from erosion and flooding.
Predator: an animal that preys on or eats others; sharks are predators.
Prey: an animal that is hunted and killed by another animal for food.
3|Sharks and Shorelines – Teacher Guide
Suggested Flow for Part 1:
Section A: Video Viewing Guide
1. Distribute copies of the student worksheet for Part 1 so that students can answer the video viewing
questions while they are watching the Sharks and Shorelines video. Go over the questions with
students so they know what to look for during the video.
2. Show students the video and then give them time to complete any questions on the worksheet that
they were unable to answer and then go over questions with the students.
3. Be sure to emphasize with students that the sharks’ presence in the mangrove acts as a deterrent to
herbivores like sea turtles and manatees. This is called intimidation behavior. Simply by swimming
around, the sharks discourage herbivory, which is what ultimately helps keep the mangrove forests
and sea grass communities going strong and these healthy communities provide habitat for a wide
variety of marine organisms. Humans benefit because the mangroves can help prevent coastal
erosion and flooding.
4. Optional activity: If you have access to student computers, it may be useful to provide students
with another opportunity to interact with the shark story. The “Ecosystem Explorer” was inspired by
content from the EARTH A New Wild series and includes a “Shark World” where students can
explore the shark ecosystem through interactive, multi-media content. You can find the interactive
content here: http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/5aeed659-7f0b-417f-81d95f2e9c747644/ecosystem-explorer-earth-a-new-wild/. If time doesn’t permit, you could assign
this as homework.
Part 1 Student Worksheet - Video Viewing Questions Answer Key
1. In the video, scientists are shown tagging different ocean predators. What kinds of data can
scientists collect from the tags?
Answer: The tags data can tell scientists when are where the sharks are moving. Scientists can
determine key migration routes, breeding grounds, and feeding grounds.
2. How does the tagging help with conservation?
Answer: It helps pinpoint the areas that might need to be protected. Tagging also shows
movement and distribution patterns, as well as biological hot-spots, so that the culling of
marine populations can be done with much more sustainable foresight.
3. What have researchers learned about lemon sharks through tagging?
Answer: Lemon shark females return to their birth places to give birth to new young.
4. What does the mangrove ecosystem provide for organisms?
Answer: It provides food and shelter for a variety of young marine organisms. An “underwater
nursery.”
5. How do sharks maintain the mangrove ecosystem?
Sharks regulate feeding behavior of prey. Herbivores are less likely to eat as much
vegetation when they are on the lookout for sharks.
4|Sharks and Shorelines – Teacher Guide
6. List some examples of marine herbivores.
Answer: Manatees, sea turtles, some species of fish
7. How do the sharks help humans?
Answer: The mangroves decrease powerful waves that hit the shores during storms. Just by
swimming in coastal waters, sharks keep the mangroves and sea grass areas healthy by
preventing overgrazing. By protecting these areas, we are protecting shark nurseries and the
sharks help protect the mangrove, which in turn protects our vulnerable coasts.
Section B: Threats to Sharks
1. The purpose of this part of the activity is for students to read more about the sharks around Bimini
in the Bahamas and learn about some of the threats to the sharks there and elsewhere in the
world. If you have time for students to read an article to learn more, they can do the following
reading and white-boarding activity. If you want to introduce students to the threats that sharks
face worldwide, but are short on time, you can show the video, “Collapse of Sharks” (3:05
minutes), which examines the demand for shark fins in the Far East and describes the resulting
decrease in shark populations.
URL: http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/nat08.living.eco.humeco.collapse/collapse-ofsharks/
2. Distribute copies of the three-page National Geographic article “Blue Waters of the Bahamas” by
Jennifer S. Holland and have students read the article. They can do this in class or for homework to
save class time.
3. After students have read the article, assign them to small groups of three to four.
4. Distribute white boards or large sheets of drawing paper to each group.
5. Read off the first question and give students two to three minutes to do a very simple illustration
for this topic. Emphasize that it does not need to be a work of art – stick figures will do. There
should be no text accompanying their drawings. The groups can talk through what should be
drawn and elect a student to do the drawing or they can all share the task. If you have access to
small whiteboards, give one to each group for their drawings. If not, use large sheets of paper, or
have students do this in their notebooks in small groups. If you have access to a document camera,
students can project their drawings. The purpose behind using drawing for this activity is for
students to synthesize the information from the text and not to copy from the reading when
answering a question.
6. Once the time is up, have all of the students hold up their drawings and have the whole class look
around and see what was drawn. Have each group elect a speaker to explain their illustrations.
By having students hold up their drawings, you can quickly assess how the students have
interpreted the reading and other students can check their answers against the rest of the class.
Students may have drawn different things and that will allow the class to see the different
interpretations of the article as well as the similarities.
5|Sharks and Shorelines – Teacher Guide
7. Repeat this process for every topic in the list below.
Topics for illustrations:



According to this article, what are the biggest threats that lemon sharks face?
Drawings may include fishing, long-lining, finning, human development
Why are mangroves being threatened in the Bahamas?
Drawings may include buildings, boats, marinas, casinos
How would the depletion or removal of an apex predator, like the lemon shark affect the
marine ecosystem.
Drawings may include sharks eating other fish that are eating algae on coral reefs.
8. After the rounds of drawings are complete, conduct a final discussion and ask the students to share
ideas about how humans can help sharks and marine ecosystems.
Student answers may include managing the number of tourists and creating marine protected
areas.
Other Resources for Part 1:


Information on the biology of Lemon Sharks:
http://www.elasmo-research.org/education/ecology/estuaries-lemon.htm
Shark facts and information on how The Nature Conservancy is working to project sharks:
http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/habitats/oceanscoasts/sharks.xml
6|Sharks and Shorelines – Teacher Guide
Part 2: Track a Shark!
Grades: 6-10
Subject: Science
Purpose: The purpose of this activity is to give students a chance to investigate the life of a great white
shark using real tracking data from an online source. Students will also analyze other data to determine
the reasons behind shark migration.
Time: Two 45-minute class periods
Materials:
 Teacher – computer, internet, LCD projector
 Copies of student worksheet for Part 2 (located at the end of this document)
 Internet with access to http://www.ocearch.org/ website
 Computers (one per student is ideal for this activity, but you could also group students on
computers)
Objectives:
The student will…
 Describe the movement of sharks using an online tracking tool.
 Analyze the movement of sharks based on tracking data, sea surface temperature, and other
factors.
 Relate shark movements to the geography the East Coast of the U.S. and the sea floor of the
Atlantic Ocean.
 Identify areas where sharks and humans may come into contact.
 List the threats to sharks and describe how tagging data can help shark conservation efforts.
 Evaluate information and create a statement to explain the reasons behind shark migration.
Next Generation Science Standards:
Disciplinary Core Ideas:
 LS2A Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
 LS2B Cycle of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems
 LS2C Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience
 LS4D Biodiversity and Humans
Crosscutting Concepts:
 Patterns
 Cause and Effect
Science and Engineering Practices:
 Asking questions
 Analyzing and interpreting data
 Constructing explanations
 Engaging in argument from evidence
7|Sharks and Shorelines – Teacher Guide
Performance Expectations:
Middle School
 MS-LS2-1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on
organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
 MS-LS2-2. Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple
ecosystems.
 MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological
components of an ecosystem affect populations.
Vocabulary:
Bathymetry: the study of underwater depth of bodies of water. The word bathymetric relates to
measurements of the depths of oceans or lakes.
Sea surface temperature: is the water temperature close to the ocean’s surface. This temperature can be
measured remotely by satellites.
8|Sharks and Shorelines – Teacher Guide
Suggested flow for Part 2:
1. Distribute copies of the student worksheet for Part 2 to students. The teacher answer key is on the
next page.
2. Project the http://www.ocearch.org/ website and walk students through some of the basic
functionality.
3. It may be useful to give students a background on some of the geographic features of the sea
floor to give them some context for where the sharks go. If students can make connections between
these features it will help them to understand how scientists use location clues as a starting point for
asking more questions and conducting research. The tracked sharks tend to stay on the continental
shelf of the United States. So it’s a little unusual to see a shark venture far out into the deeper
waters beyond the continental shelf.
4. Use the websites below to show students what the ocean floor looks like and give them context for
understanding the difference between the continental shelf and the deep ocean.
a. Use the link below to project the bathymetric map of the Atlantic Ocean floor created by
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
URL: http://www.nnvl.noaa.gov/MediaDetail.php?MediaID=572&MediaTypeID=1
Talking points for this image:
 Notice how the continental shelf of the East Coast gently drops off
 The Mid-Atlantic ridge is the world’s longest mountain range that splits the Atlantic
Ocean into East and West.
 The Puerto Rico Trench is the deepest part of the Atlantic
b. Use the link below to show an animated tour of the sea floor created by using a
combination of ship-based measurements and satellite data. Go to the link and click play
on the video, which was created by the Environmental Visualization Laboratory at NOAA.
URL:
http://www.nnvl.noaa.gov/MediaDetail2.php?MediaID=662&MediaTypeID=3&Resource
ID=104527
c.
Click this link to view a collection of materials by NOAA on the ocean floor, including
background information on the tectonic plates, trenches, canyons, volcanoes, and more:
URL: http://www.education.noaa.gov/Ocean_and_Coasts/Ocean_Floor_Features.html
5. After this introduction, send students to computers to work through the tasks on their worksheet and
move about the room to support them as questions arise.
6. When students have completed the worksheet, regroup and have a class discussion. Since students
could track four different sharks, you may wish to have students who researched the same shark
combine together to compare their description of their shark’s movement. Alternatively, you could
group students together who researched different sharks so that they can compare and contrast
the difference in shark movement.
9|Sharks and Shorelines – Teacher Guide
SHARKS AND SHORELINES
Student Worksheet – TEACHER ANSWER KEY
Part 2: Track a Shark!
Instructions:

Go to http://www.ocearch.org/ and explore the site for a few minutes to understand how it
works.

After you have explored, in the left hand box under sharks, enter the names: Mary Lee, Betsy,
Genie, and Katharine. Type the full name, hit enter, then type another name. If you try to select
the name as it pops up below, it may be difficult to select more than one shark at a time. Once
you have all four sharks selected, under tracking activity, select “last two years.” Under gender
and stage of life leave it as the default “all”. Under tagged at, select “Cape Cod”. Then click
“track shark.”

For easier map viewing, close the social media box on
the right side, and then your map should look
approximately like the image to the right.

When you mouse over one of the circles on the colored
line, it indicates the time and date of the shark’s ping
as shown in the image below on the left. If you click on
a dot, you get the time and date AND the name of the
shark. The large orange circles with the white center
show the most recent location of the shark. When you
click on the orange circle, you get detailed information
about the shark (example in the image below on the
right).
OCEARCH™ Screenshot
10 | S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – T e a c h e r G u i d e
OCEARCH™ Screenshot
OCEARCH™ Screenshot
Answer the questions below utilizing the OCEARCH™ website with the tracks for Mary Lee, Betsy,
Genie, and Katharine displayed.
Questions:
1. What is a ping? Can sharks send a ping when they are underwater? (hint: mouse over the
information “i” in the Global Shark Tracker box.
Answer: A ping is when the shark’s dorsal fin breaks the surface of the water and transmits a
signal to a satellite overhead. The satellite then transmits an estimated geo-location that is placed
on the map. Sharks do not send a ping when they are underwater.
2. Some sharks have large gaps in tracking data, what might account for this? (hint: look at recent
pings for a clue)
Answer: If sharks don’t surface long enough for the location to be detected, there might a gap in
the tracking data. The next time the shark surfaces, we will know where it is but we will not be
able to tell where it went between pings.
3. Based on the map you have generated of the sharks’ movement over 2 years, what is one thing
that all 4 sharks have in common at first glance?
Answer: For the most part, all sharks stay in the Atlantic Ocean right off of the East Coast of the
United States. Most of the pings don’t go farther north than Massachusetts and don’t go farther
south than Florida.
4. What are some differences that you notice? Refer to sharks by name when describing the
differences.
Answer: In February and March 2013, Mary Lee went much farther out into the ocean than the
other sharks. In December 2013, Betsy went the farthest out into the Atlantic Ocean and then the
next ping wasn’t until April 2014 when she showed up in the Gulf of Mexico. Only Betsy and
Katharine went into the Gulf of Mexico, but Betsy ventured the farthest into the Gulf, while
Katharine stayed closer to Florida.
5. How can you tell which direction sharks are moving?
Answer: Start by mousing over the dots to look at the dates. Then see which dates come first. For
example, you can tell if a shark is moving south if the newer dates are all south of the first dot you
examined.
6. Which island was Mary Lee near during February 2013?
Answer: Bermuda
7. Zoom in on Cape Cod. In which months does it appear that Mary Lee, Betsy, Genie, and
Katharine sharks are near Cape Cod?
Answer: In general, it seems that they are there from August through December.
8. If the line between two dots (pings) goes across land, what can you infer about a shark’s path?
Answer: Since sharks can’t move across land, it just means that the shark likely swam around a land
feature but didn’t surface long enough to ping. So the map drew a line to connect the dots, but
that’s not really accurate. Or if the shark did surface long enough, maybe there was a fault with
the transmitter.
11 | S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – T e a c h e r G u i d e
Now that scientists have access to shark tracking data, they are just beginning to get a picture of where
sharks spend their time. However, there is still much research to be done before scientists know why sharks
where go where they do. Betsy, Genie, Katharine, and Mary Lee are all the same species of shark –
great white. Pick one of these sharks to track.
**Note for teacher: Genie and Betsy do not have as many pings, so if you have students that may need more
time for activities need other modifications you might suggest that they choose one of these two sharks.
Once you have decided on the shark, delete the other three sharks from the map by clicking on the “x”
next to their names in the Global Shark Tracker box.
Which shark will you track?_______answer key includes all 4 sharks___
Use the map on page 10 (page 19 of the teacher guide) of this worksheet to help you take notes about
shark location. It may be useful to change the tracking activity time parameters, for example, you could
track one year or just one week. By fine tuning your shark track, you might be able to get an idea of how
long it stays in one location. At the very bottom of the map, you can click full screen to get rid of the
control box for better viewing.
When you locate your shark, pay attention and make note of the underwater geographic features nearby
on the map. Note that the darker the blue color, the deeper the water. The light blue areas are shallower
waters and are usually located above a continental shelf. You can also see mid-ocean ridges and trenches
on the OCEARCH™ map. The image below shows a 3-D version of the sea floor.
Image Credit: NOAA Environmental Visualization Lab
12 | S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – T e a c h e r G u i d e
Use the hints and guiding questions below to help you get started with your research. The goal of your
research is to establish a profile for your shark, which will serve as a starting point for trying to
answer the question “why does my shark go where it goes?”
9. Under tracking activity select “past year” and then click track shark. Write a detailed description
of what your shark did in the last year. Where does your shark go during the summer, fall,
winter, and spring? Use cities, states, directions (N, S, E, and W), and geographic features in your
answer. Use the map on page 10 (page 19 of the teacher guide) to write location notes to help
you craft your answer.
**Teacher note: the answers to the following questions will vary since the data is real-time. If you use
this lesson a year from when it was written, the shark track could be very different from the answers
below. These example answers for Mary Lee and Katharine are based off of tracking data from the
years 2014-2015.
Answers:
Mary Lee: Mary Lee spent some of Jan 2014 out in the deeper water off of the continental shelf,
then for most of 2014 she stayed fairly close to the East Coast between the cities of Charleston,
SC and Jacksonville, FL. In Dec 2014 she headed NE, nearly in the same direction as she was in
Jan 2014, but this time not go past the edge of the continental shelf. In Jan 2015 she pinged back
in the area where she spent most of 2014 and was directly off the coast from Savannah, GA.
Katharine: She pinged near Daytona Beach, FL in Jan 2014 and then headed north in Feb 2014.
She swam around the area between Savannah, GA and Jacksonville, FL during the next few
months. From May to June 2014 she went south around the tip of Florida, stopping at Key West on
May 27th and then into the Gulf of Mexico. Between July 6th and July 17th she swam out of the
Gulf and around the tip of Florida but didn’t ping between those dates. She then started heading
north and was already to Daytona Beach by Jul 21, 2014. She was off the coast of NC in
September 2014 and headed toward Cape Cod in Oct, Nov, and part of Dec 2014. In December
2014 she started to head away from the cape and by Jan 2, 2015 she was at the edge of the
continental shelf west of NYC. By Jan 5, 2015 she was still off the continental shelf but had
reached due east of Delaware. There were some weird pings that showed up on Jan 10th on land,
but that was probably some kind of transmission error. Either way, she pinged several times on the
10th and she was very close to the Cape Hatteras National Sea Shore in NC. She continued
moving south down the coast and on Jan 22, 2015 she pinged off of the coast of SC near Hilton
Head Island.
Genie: In Jan 2014 Genie was near the coast by Savannah, GA and then she swam south toward
Jacksonville, FL by the end of Jan. She pinged again in April 2014 off the continental shelf SE of
Virginia Beach, VA. By May she had moved north, still off the continental shelf but this time east of
the NJ coast. On May 25, 2014 she pinged off the coast of the Eastern Shore of VA and then
headed south where she pinged again on July 21, 2014 near Savannah, GA. By Sept 2014 she
was headed back north and pinged off of the coast of VA again. The next time she pinged she
was near Cape Cod in Oct 2014.
13 | S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – T e a c h e r G u i d e
Betsy: On April 18, 2014 Betsy was far out in the Gulf of Mexico directly south of Louisiana. Then
on April 23, 2014 she pinged closer to FL near Cape Coral. She stayed in this area until at least
the beginning of June. Her next ping wasn’t until Sep 27, 2014 off the island of Nantucket. She
pinged near Nantucket a month later on Oct 22, 2014 and then headed directly south and pinged
again near the continental shelf east of NJ on Nov 15, 2014. She headed south and then pinged
right near Rehoboth Beach on the Delaware coast on Nov 21, 2014. Her last ping was the same
day but she had headed out to sea and was due east of DE off the continental shelf.
10. Select “all activity” under tracking activity and then click track shark. If your shark took a
surprising or unusual path, where did it go?
Answers:
Mary Lee: Mary Lee has a lot of history and a lot of pings. In all of her activity dating back to her
tag date of Sept 17, 2012 – the most unusual event was when she went headed due east from
Long Island, NY in Jan 2013 and then went north a little bit near the edge of the continental shelf
and then headed south and pinged at Bermuda in late Feb 2013. She then headed SW of
Bermuda and didn’t start heading back to the US coast until March 2013. She pinged near the
coast of NC in late March 2013.
Katharine: Katherine went into the Gulf of Mexico and spent a lot of time there just due south of
Panama City, FL in June 2014. She also seems to surface a lot compared to the other sharks. She
has a lot of pings! But from July 21-28 she has no pings and swims really far NE from Daytona
Beach, FL in a northerly direction and pings again far off the coast of Charleston, SC.
Genie: Genie’s path was pretty consistent. She traveled north and south off the coast of GA and
up to Cape Cod. The only real anomaly was when she was farther out in the ocean due east from
Cape Hatteras in April 2014.
Betsy: Went far out into the Gulf of Mexico in April 2014. She also went very far out in the
Atlantic past the continental shelf in Dec 2013.
11. Make a list of reasons that sharks might go to certain places (think about the things that every
animal needs to do).
Answer:
 Sharks need to find a mate and breed
 They need to give birth to young
 They need food
14 | S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – T e a c h e r G u i d e
12. The article “Shark Spring Break: Florida Swarm Explained” (link below) says that sharks head
south for spring break. Did your shark spend the spring near Florida?
URL: http://news.discovery.com/animals/sharks/shark-spring-break-swarm-explained130308.htm
Answers:
Mary Lee: in the last two years (2013-2014) Mary Lee did not swim to FL during the spring
months
Katharine: Was near the coasts of Georgia and Florida in the spring of 2014.
Genie: In the spring of 2014 Genie was nowhere near Florida. In April 2014 she was off the coast
of Virginia and North Carolina, far out in the water past the continental shelf.
Betsy: Did head south for Spring Break and spent April 2014 in the Gulf of Mexico.
13. One thing that all 4 sharks had in common was they were originally tagged on Cape Cod in
Massachusetts. Why do the sharks come to the Cape Cod area? A scientist recently tweeted this
clue; can it help you answer the question?
“A weird concentration of black spots has been spotted in a satellite image. Where is this, what are
the black spots? #beachmystery #sharkbait https://goo.gl/maps/2bTHA”
Open the map and see if you can identify where the black dots are (circled in red below), what
they are, and explain why they are important to sharks.
Google Maps Screenshot
Answer:
The black dots are gray seals on the beach near the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge on Cape
Cod. Gray seals are food for the sharks and are a huge reason for the sharks return to this area.
**Teacher note: If students can’t figure out the relevance of the image, they could read this article
about sharks returning to Cape Cod to eat gray seals.
URL:
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/07/sharks_return_to_cape_cod
_gray_seals_are_the_bait.html
15 | S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – T e a c h e r G u i d e
In the image to the right, the green
dots represent 649 verified white
shark observations in the Northwest
Atlantic Ocean from 1800-2010.
The white shark observation records
that were used to make this graphic
were compiled from a variety of
sources including commercial fishery
observer programs, scientific
research surveys, commercial and
recreational fisherman, newspaper
articles, recreational tournaments,
scientists, landings data (total number
of species captures, brought to shore,
and sold), and more.
Image credit: Tobey Curtis, NOAA
Fisheries
Unfortunately, because the sightings only occur when human-shark interactions happen, this does not
capture the whole picture of shark movement, however, this data set from a 2014 paper by Tobey Curtis
et al. represents the most comprehensive information on great white shark location in the Northwest Atlantic
Ocean so far. Continued shark observation and tagging data will only help to complete the picture and
will be useful for shark conservation and management moving forward.
14. Describe the location of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean (see above image) shark observations with
respect to the coastlines, continental shelf, and the deep ocean.
Answer: In general, the observed sharks were in shallower waters on the continental shelf and
close to the coastline. In rare occasions they have been spotted out in deeper waters.
15. Is it possible that sharks could occur in deeper waters past the continental shelf?
Answer: Yes, because these data are limited to human-shark interactions, it is possible that we
don’t know the whole story. There are a few sharks in the OCEARCH™ data and even in the
image above that went farther out into the Atlantic (Bermuda). In fact, there are OCEARCH™
tagged sharks around the rest of the world that don’t always stay near coastlines.
**Teacher note: you may want to point students to the whole OCEARCH™ map since this
activity restricted them to sharks that were tagged at Cape Cod and live in the Atlantic. This
will help them see the behaviors of sharks that live in other parts of the world.
16. How can satellite tracking data help to give a better picture of shark movement compared to
human observation alone?
Answer: Sharks must have some interaction with humans in order to be captured and tagged, but
after that the satellite picks up shark location when sharks surface. This location data doesn’t
depend on human-shark interaction. This is drastically different from human observation alone,
which might consist of only one location data point for one shark. The satellite tracking data helps
to depict the whole journey of a single shark over several years, which is a far richer data set. In
addition, when sharks are tagged, shark details like age and gender are recorded so researchers
can combine this information with the track to start to help answer questions like “do female great
white sharks have different migration patterns than male sharks?”
16 | S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – T e a c h e r G u i d e
Image credit: CC by Tobey Curtis et al. (2014), NOAA
Fisheries
In the images above, shark sightings by season are overlaid on maps of sea surface temperature (SST). As
shown in the key, the redder the color of the ocean, the hotter the SST. The darker blue ocean color
indicates cooler SST.
In the diagram, CC stands for Cape Cod; NYB = New York Bight; CH = Cape Hatteras; FL = Florida; GOM
= Gulf of Mexico; and CS = Caribbean Sea.
17. Based on the information in the sea surface temperature (SST) images above, make a statement
that describes how shark location relates to SST. Be sure to use approximate locations and
temperature values in your description.
Answer: In the winter months when SST is cooler near Cape Cod, sharks were spotted off the coast
of North Carolina and all the way down to Florida where it is warmer than approximately 20o C.
In the summer months when SST rises significantly to around 35o C around Florida and all the way
up to Delaware, the majority of shark sightings were around the NE coast from Delaware and
north to Canada where the water is much cooler than approximately 30o C. In the fall and spring
when SST is less extreme, the sharks were more evenly distributed along the coast compared to
winter and summer. In the spring, there were a few more in around Florida than in the fall, but this
is likely because the some sharks were still hanging around after the winter months. In the fall,
there were a few more sightings in the NE, likely because not all of the sharks had started their
southward migration for winter.
17 | S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – T e a c h e r G u i d e
18. Based on your findings so far, describe what you think are some of the major influencers of shark
movement.
Answer: Sharks appear to prefer swimming in waters near the coast and on the continental shelf. It
also appears that they move where food is and they are influenced by sea surface temperature.
19. What are some unanswered questions you have at this point? These unanswered questions could
form the basis of a scientific research project.
Answers may vary but could include:
 Why do some sharks go way out into the deep ocean – like the one that showed up near
Bermuda?
 Where do the sharks go to breed and have young?
 How will climate change influence shark movement?
 How does the population of gray seals affect the shark population?
20. Sharks are pretty fierce animals, but they are not immune to threats. What kinds of things or
activities might endanger sharks?
Answer: Commercial fishing, finning.
21. Looking at the track of your shark, where are areas that you think the shark could potentially
encounter humans? Mark them on your paper map on page 10 with the letter “x”.
Answer: Will vary, but students should mark areas where their shark came very close to the coast
where humans might be swimming, surfing, or doing other recreational activities.
22. How does have shark tagging data help us to conserve sharks and shark habitat?
Answer: If we can see where sharks go, we can determine which areas might need more
protection. For example, shark nursery areas might need to be protected. To ensure that sharks
can reproduce and keep their populations going strong.
18 | S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – T e a c h e r G u i d e
19 | S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – T e a c h e r G u i d e
Other Resources for Part 2:


For more information on the tracking of Great White Sharks:
http://www.wired.com/2013/12/secret-lives-great-white-sharks/
Article on where in the world you are most at risk for a shark attack:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10953652/Shark-attackwhere-in-the-world-are-you-most-at-risk.html
Other tracking sites:





Analyzing Ocean Tracks – Designed for classroom use, this site includes several investigations using
real data collected from marine animals, buoys, and satellites.
http://oceantracks.org/
Tagging of Pelagic Predators (TOPP) – This website shows animal tracks, including historic tracks
and real-time tracks from a wide variety of marine predators.
http://www.gtopp.org/
Expedition WhiteShark – An app for iPad/iPod that includes shark tracking, shark bios, and a
gallery.
http://www.expeditionwhiteshark.com/
R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program – Track sharks with Google Earth.
http://rjd.miami.edu/education/virtual-learning/tracking-sharks
Virtual Expedition (by R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program) – Includes more in depth videos
on how tagging is done and explains the equipment used in the tagging process.
http://rjd.miami.edu/virtual-expeditions/
20 | T e a c h e r G u i d e – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s
Part 3: Predator and Prey – A Game of Survival in a Marine Ecosystem
Grades: 6-10
Subject: Science
Purpose: This game provides a kinesthetic way for students to experience the effects of predation on
marine organisms. The game is conducted outside on school grounds. Students will play the roles of
predator and prey and over several iterations of the game; they will learn how the predator and prey
populations are interconnected.
Time: Two to three 45-minute class periods (1 class period to discuss trophic levels and predation, 1 class
period to play the game, 1 class period for data analysis and discussion)
Materials:





20 red, 8 blue, and 2 white bandanas or strips of fabric (for 30 students)
Approximately 200 red poker chips and 100 blue poker chips (for 30 students)
Pieces of paper for each student that play a ray or a small fish
Approximately 20 crayons of different colors attached to string
Graph paper
Objectives:
The student will…





Define and describe different trophic levels in a marine ecosystem.
Compare and contrast the roles of predator and prey in a marine ecosystem.
Describe how the population size at one trophic level can influence the population size of another
trophic level.
Examine the role of an apex predator in a marine ecosystem.
Graph and analyze the change in populations over multiple generations.
Next Generation Science Standards:
Disciplinary Core Ideas:
 LS2A Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
 LS2B Cycle of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems
 LS2C Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience
 LS4D Biodiversity and Humans
Crosscutting Concepts:
 Patterns
 Cause and Effect
 Energy and Matter
 Stability and Change
21 | T e a c h e r G u i d e – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s
Science and Engineering Practices:
 Analyzing and Interpreting Data
 Using mathematics and computational thinking
 Constructing explanations
 Engaging in an argument from evidence
Performance Expectations:
Middle School
 MS-LS2-1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on
organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
 MS-LS2-2. Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple
ecosystems.
 MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological
components of an ecosystem affect populations.
Vocabulary:
Apex predator: a top-level predator with no natural predator of its own; a shark is an example.
Consumer: an organism that gets energy by eating other organisms. Consumers are also known as
heterotrophs.
Phytoplankton: are small and microscopic, photosynthesizing organisms that are found drifting in water
and include cyanobacteria, diatoms, and dinoflagellates.
Predator: an animal that preys on or eats others.
Prey: an animal that is hunted and killed by another animal for food.
Producer: an organism that make its own energy by converting light or chemical energy into organic
matter; plants are producers. Producers are also known as autotrophs.
Zooplankton: are small and microscopic swimming animals that live in water; zooplankton are often the
larval stage of larger organisms like crab.
22 | T e a c h e r G u i d e – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s
Suggested Flow:
1. Do a preliminary assessment with your students (do now, entry task, etc.) to elicit their prior
knowledge about food chains and trophic levels. At the beginning of class, have students draw a
food chain in their notebooks. They can use any organism that comes to mind. Their food chains
should include a producer, a primary consumer, a secondary consumer, and a tertiary consumer.
Based on this preliminary check for understanding, you may need to teach or reteach the basics
about trophic levels. Have students identify which of the organisms in their food chain would be
considered predators and prey. Ask them if something can be both a predator and prey and if so,
have them identify that organism in their food chain.
An example:
Eagle
(tertiary consumer or
carnivore)
Snake
(secondary consumer or
carnivore)
Mouse
(primary consumer or
herbivore)
Plant
(producer)
2. To prepare for the game, begin with the steps below.
Teacher Preparation:
a) There are three different organisms in the game: lemon shark, spotted eagle ray, and
small fish. The ratio is 1 shark: 4 rays: 10 small fish. If you have 30 students, you can
have double the numbers to 2 sharks: 8 rays: 20 small fish. Make other adjustments as
needed.
b) Obtain the appropriate number of bandanas or colored strips of fabric for each
organism. Sharks are white, rays are blue, and fish are red.
c) Prior to the game, you will need to hang the crayons around the area of your school
grounds in which you wish to play this game. Be sure to spread them out. Make some
locations obvious and hide others. You can vary the number of crayons based on the
number of students, but you should at least have 20 multi-colored crayons. You may also
need to vary the number of crayons based on the size of the space in which you are
playing – the bigger the space and more spread out the crayons are, the harder it is for
students to find the crayons and survive the game. If you are playing in a large space,
you will want to add additional crayons. The crayons represent food and where the
crayons are located is the equivalent of a feeding station. The reason behind using
multiple colors is so students can’t go to a feeding station and make several marks with
one crayon.
d) Be sure to map out clear boundaries for the playing field so you can communicate this to
the students. Establish a location for the trading station where you or a student will hand
out chips in return for crayon marks.
23 | T e a c h e r G u i d e – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s
3. Quick overview of the game:
 At the start of the game, you will give the small fish a 10 second head start to begin looking
for crayons, then let rays go, and then wait 10 more seconds before releasing the shark(s).

Each round should last about 8 minutes and represents one year.

The small fish start with 5 red chips. Their goal is to collect crayon marks at the feeding
stations. When they get 6 different colored crayon marks on a paper, they can exchange
those for 1 red chip at the trading station. Then they head out and collect more marks,
repeating this process. During this time they must try to avoid predators (sharks and rays)
that will be tagging them and taking their red chips. Small fish must finish the game with 1
red chip in order to survive.

Spotted eagle rays start with 5 blue chips. Their goal is to collect red chips from the small
fish AND different colored crayon marks from the feeding stations. When they have they
have 3 red chips and 3 different colored crayon marks, they may trade these for 1 blue
chip at the trading station. Then they head out and collect more marks and/or red chips.
During this time, they will also be avoiding sharks who will try to tag them and take their
blue chips. Rays must finish the game with 1 blue chip in order to survive.

Sharks start with no chips, but will move around trying to tag small fish and take a red chip
from them (only one at a time) or they will tag rays and take a blue chip from them. Even
though rays are collecting red chips from the small fish, sharks cannot take the red chips
from the rays. The red chips that the rays have represent the ray food only. In order to
survive, sharks must end the game with a total of 12 red and/or blue chips.

Predators cannot tag an animal when they are already being tagged and predators can
only take one chip at a time from the prey. Predators CAN attack prey when they are at
feeding stations. Students playing predators may even discover the strategy of waiting for
prey near feeding stations.

Play at least 3 rounds. You can assign different organisms to each student in a new round.
This will give them a different experience and it won’t be as easy for them to find crayons
since they will have to adjust to their new organism’s strategies and feeding stations.

At the end of a round, blow a whistle or use some kind of signaling device that you have
agreed upon with the students. Record survivor data and then play another round. Repeat
this for several rounds.
Indoor Preparation with Students:
4. Project or share the flow chart diagram on the next page to summarize the goals for each
organism. Make sure all students understand their goals before they head outside. The chips are
the equivalent of “lives” or “health” (for the sharks, they will represent food since sharks don’t
need to capture crayon marks).
24 | T e a c h e r G u i d e – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s
Lemon Shark
Credit: Albert Kok CC by 3.0
Spotted Eagle Ray
Small Forage Fish
Credit: NOAA
Credit: John Norton CC by 2.0
Shark (1 student)
 White bandana on arm
 Starts with no chips
Rays (4 students)
 Blue bandana on arm
 Starts with 5 blue chips
 Piece of paper
Small Fish (10 students)
 Red bandana on arm
 Starts with 5 red chips
 Piece of paper
Goal:
 Find rays and small
fish and take 1 chip at
a time from them.
 Cannot tag ray or fish
while they are being
tagged by another
predator.
 Sharks can only take
blue chips from rays
(not the red chips that
rays are collecting for
food).
 Collect as many chips
as you can by tagging
rays and fish. You
must finish with at
least 12 red/blue
chips to survive.
Goal:
 Find small fish and
take a red chip from
them by tagging them.
 Find crayons and mark
paper once for each
crayon found.
 Can trade 3 red chips
plus 3 different
colored crayon marks
for a 1 blue chip at
the station. Collect as
many new chips as you
can.
 Avoid sharks while
looking for crayons.
 If you run out of chips,
you must sit out for the
remainder of the
game.
 You must finish the
game with at least 1
blue chip to survive.
Goal:
 Find crayons and
mark paper once for
each crayon found.
Can trade 6 different
colored marks for 1
red chip at the station.
Collect as many new
chips as you can.
 Avoid predators while
looking for crayons.
 If you run out of chips,
you must sit out for the
remainder of the
game.
 You must finish the
game with at least 1
red chip to survive.
25 | T e a c h e r G u i d e – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s
5. Before heading outside, reinforce the following game rules:
 No pushing.
 No arguing.
 If a predator finds prey, the prey must give up their chip. While this exchange is
happening, the prey can’t be tagged by another predator.
 You can be tagged by a predator while you are eating (getting a crayon mark).
6. Give students their appropriate bandana or fabric strip and the starting number of chips for each
organism. The head outside with students and follow the instructions below.
Outside Instructions:
a) Show students the boundaries and the area you have established as the trading station
where they can trade sheets with crayon marks for new chips.
b) Remind students of their roles and goals.
c) At the start of the game, give the small fish a 10 second head start to begin looking for
crayons, then let rays go and wait 10 more seconds before releasing the shark(s).
d) Each round should last about 8 minutes. Play at least three rounds. Feel free to assign
different organisms to each student in a new round. That way they get a different
experience and it won’t be as easy for them to find crayons since they will have to adjust
to their new organism’s strategies and feeding stations.
e) At the end of a round, blow a whistle or use some kind of signaling device that you have
agreed upon with the students.
f)
Use the data table on the next page to record the numbers of animals that have survived.
Begin another round and then record data. Complete as many rounds as you can.
26 | T e a c h e r G u i d e – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s
Number of Surviving Organisms
Starting #
Round 1
Small Fish
(must finish
with 1 red
chip to
survive)
Spotted
Eagle Ray
(must finish
with 1 blue
chip to
survive)
Lemon Shark
(must finish
with 12 red
and/or blue
chips to
survive)
27 | T e a c h e r G u i d e – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s
Round 2
Round 3
Round 4
Round 5
7. Try the variations below for a round or two, or make up your own variation to show students how
populations are affected when the apex predator is removed or when the primary consumer
population shrinks.
a) Shark population suffers because of finning - remove or reduce the number of lemon
sharks
b) Massive overfishing in the Atlantic - reduce the population size of small fish
8. Be sure that all students collect their chips and bandanas and head back inside for data analysis
and discussion.
9. You can have students graph the data collected during the game or create a class bar graph with
sticky notes on a board to use for discussion.
10. Talking points for final discussion are below. You could also have students write up a conclusion
based on these discussion and their graphs.

Discuss the changes in population from round to round (year to year). Have students speculate
on the trends that they see in the graph.

Ask students who played both prey and predators if there were specific strategies that they
used during the game in order to hide from prey or attack prey. Ask students if they think that
their techniques were representative of what actually happens in nature.

The food chain in this game included a small forage fish, a ray, and a shark. Have students
determine the trophic levels for each of these organisms. Forage fish eat phytoplankton and
zooplankton, so they would be considered both primary and secondary consumers. Sharks eat
a wide variety of prey, but are considered the apex predator in a marine ecosystem. Rays
eat crabs, bivalves, shrimp, squid and other organisms in addition to fish. But for the purposes
of this game, they are either a secondary or tertiary consumer.

In Part 1 of this lesson plan, students learned about the intimidation behavior of the lemon
sharks. The mere presence of the sharks swimming through an area prevented marine
herbivores from eating the sea grasses and mangrove seedlings, which in turn allowed the
mangrove forests to flourish and provide habitat for all organisms to thrive. Discuss the
concept of intimidation behavior with students and ask them to describe what, if any,
intimidation strategies the predators in this game might have used.
28 | T e a c h e r G u i d e – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s
Bibliography:
Curtis, Tobey H., Camilla T. McCandless, John K. Carlson, Gregory B. Skomal, Nancy E. Kohler, Lisa J.
Natanson, George H. Burgess, John J. Hoey, and Harold L. Pratt, Jr. "Seasonal Distribution and Historic
Trends in Abundance of White Sharks, Carcharodon Carcharias, in the Western North Atlantic Ocean."
PLOS One. PLOS One, 11 June 2014. Web. 27 Jan. 2015.
<http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0099240>.
Dawicki, Shelley. "Study of White Sharks in the Northwest Atlantic Offers Optimistic Outlook for
Recovery." NEFSC: Science Spotlight, NOAA Fisheries Service. National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, 11 June 2014. Web. 22 Jan. 2015.
<http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/press_release/pr2014/scispot/ss1405/>.
Holland, Jennifer S. "Blue Waters of the Bahamas." - National Geographic Magazine. National
Geographic Society, Mar. 2007. Web. 03 Dec. 2014.
<http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/03/bahamian-sharks/holland-text>.
Standards:
National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers. Common
Core State Standards. Washington, DC: Authors, 2010.
NGSS Lead States. Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By States. Washington, DC: The
National Academies Press, 2013.
29 | T e a c h e r G u i d e – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s
SHARKS AND SHORELINES
Student Worksheet
Part 1: Lemon Sharks and Mangroves
Section A: Video Viewing Guide
Watch the Sharks and Shorelines | EARTH A New Wild video
(3:56 min) and answer the questions below.
URL: https://vimeo.com/116273821
© Janet Haas for The Nature Conservancy
1. In the video, scientists are shown tagging different ocean predators. What kinds of data can scientists
collect from the tags?
2. How does the tagging help with conservation?
3. What have researchers learned about lemon sharks through tagging?
1|Student Worksheet – Sharks and Shorelines – Part 1
4. What does the mangrove ecosystem provide for organisms?
5. How do sharks maintain the mangrove ecosystem?
6. List some examples of marine herbivores.
7. How do the sharks help humans?
Optional: Your teacher may assign you to check out the “Ecosystem Explorer,” which was inspired by the
EARTH A New Wild series and includes a “Shark World” where you can explore the shark ecosystem
through interactive, multi-media content. You can find the interactive content here:
http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/5aeed659-7f0b-417f-81d9-5f2e9c747644/ecosystemexplorer-earth-a-new-wild/
2|Student Worksheet – Sharks and Shorelines – Part 1
SHARKS AND SHORELINES
Student Worksheet
Part 2: Track a Shark!
Instructions:

Go to http://www.ocearch.org/ and explore the site to understand how it works.

After you have explored, in the left hand box under sharks, enter the names: Mary Lee, Betsy,
Genie, and Katharine. Type the full name, hit enter, then type another name. If you try to select
the name as it pops up below, it may be difficult to select more than one shark at a time. Once
you have all four sharks selected, under tracking activity, select “last two years.” Under gender
and stage of life leave it as the default “all”. Under tagged at, select “Cape Cod”. Then click
“track shark.”

For easier map viewing, close the social media box on
the right side, and then your map should look
approximately like the image to the right.

When you mouse over one of the circles on the
colored line, it indicates the time and date of the
shark’s ping as shown in the image below on the left.
If you click on a dot, you get the time and date AND
the name of the shark. The large orange circles with
the white center show the most recent location of the
shark. When you click on the orange circle, you get
detailed information about the shark (example in the
image below on the right).
OCEARCH™ Screenshot
1 |S t u d e n t W o r k s h e e t – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – P a r t 2
OCEARCH™ Screenshot
OCEARCH™ Screenshot
Answer the questions below utilizing the OCEARCH™ website with the tracks for Mary Lee, Betsy,
Genie, and Katharine displayed.
Questions:
1. What is a ping? Can sharks send a ping when they are underwater? (Hint: mouse over the
information “i” in the Global Shark Tracker box.)
2. Some sharks have large gaps in tracking data, what might account for this? (hint: look at recent
pings for a clue)
3. Based on the map you have generated of the sharks’ movement over 2 years, what is one thing
that all 4 sharks have in common at first glance?
4. What are some differences that you notice? Refer to sharks by name when describing the
differences.
2 |S t u d e n t W o r k s h e e t – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – P a r t 2
5. How can you tell which direction sharks are moving?
6. Which island was Mary Lee near during February 2013?
7. Zoom in on Cape Cod. In which months does it appear that Mary Lee, Betsy, Genie, and
Katharine sharks are near Cape Cod?
8. If the line between two dots (pings) goes across land, what can you infer about a shark’s path?
3 |S t u d e n t W o r k s h e e t – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – P a r t 2
Now that scientists have access to shark tracking data, they are just beginning to get a picture of where
sharks spend their time. However, there is still much research to be done before scientists know why sharks
go where they do. Betsy, Genie, Katharine, and Mary Lee are all the same species of shark – great
white. Pick one of these sharks to track.
Once you have decided on the shark, delete the other three sharks from the map by clicking on the “x”
next to their names in the Global Shark Tracker box.
Which shark will you track?_______________________________________________________
Use the map on page 10 of this worksheet to help you take notes about shark location. It may be useful
to change the tracking activity time parameters, for example, you could track one year or just one week.
By fine tuning your shark track, you might be able to get an idea of how long it stays in one location. At
the very bottom of the map, you can click full screen to get rid of the control box for better viewing.
When you locate your shark, pay attention and make note of the underwater geographic features nearby
on the map. Note that the darker the blue color, the deeper the water. The light blue areas are shallower
waters and are usually located above a continental shelf. You can also see mid-ocean ridges and trenches
on the OCEARCH™ map. The image below shows a 3-D version of the sea floor.
Image Credit: NOAA Environmental Visualization Lab
4 |S t u d e n t W o r k s h e e t – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – P a r t 2
Use the hints and guiding questions below to help you get started with your research. The goal of your
research is to establish a profile for your shark, which will serve as a starting point for trying to
answer the question “why does my shark go where it goes?”
9. Under tracking activity select “past year” and then click track shark. Write a detailed description
of what your shark did in the last year. Where does your shark go during the summer, fall,
winter, and spring? Use cities, states, directions (N, S, E, and W), and geographic features in your
answer. Use the map on page 10 to write location notes to help you craft your answer.
10. Select “all activity” under tracking activity and then click track shark. If your shark took a
surprising or unusual path, where did it go?
11. Make a list of reasons that sharks might go to certain places (think about the things that every
animal needs to do).
5 |S t u d e n t W o r k s h e e t – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – P a r t 2
12. The article “Shark Spring Break: Florida Swarm Explained” (link below) says that sharks head
south for spring break. Did your shark spend the spring near Florida?
URL: http://news.discovery.com/animals/sharks/shark-spring-break-swarm-explained130308.htm
13. One thing that all 4 sharks had in common was they were originally tagged on Cape Cod in
Massachusetts. Why do the sharks come to the Cape Cod area? A scientist recently tweeted this
clue; can it help you answer the question?
“A weird concentration of black spots has been spotted in a satellite image. Where is this, what are
the black spots? #beachmystery #sharkbait https://goo.gl/maps/2bTHA”
Open the map and see if you can identify where the black dots (circled in red) are, what they are,
and explain why they are important to sharks.
Google Maps Screenshot
6 |S t u d e n t W o r k s h e e t – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – P a r t 2
In the image to the right, the
green dots represent 649
verified white shark
observations in the Northwest
Atlantic Ocean from 18002010.
The white shark observation
records that were used to
make this graphic were
compiled from a variety of
sources including commercial
fishery observer programs,
scientific research surveys,
commercial and recreational
Image credit: Tobey Curtis, NOAA Fisheries
fisherman, newspaper articles,
recreational tournaments,
scientists, landings data (total number of species captures, brought to shore, and sold), and more.
Unfortunately, because the sightings only occur when human-shark interactions happen, this does not
capture the whole picture of shark movement, however, this data set from a 2014 paper by Tobey Curtis
et al., represents the most comprehensive information on great white shark location in the Northwest
Atlantic Ocean so far. Continued shark observation and tagging data will only help to complete the
picture and will be useful for shark conservation and management moving forward.
14. Describe the location of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean (see above image) shark observations with
respect to the coastlines, continental shelf, and the deep ocean.
15. Is it possible that sharks could occur in deeper waters past the continental shelf?
16. How can satellite tracking data help to give a better picture of shark movement compared to
human observation alone?
7 |S t u d e n t W o r k s h e e t – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – P a r t 2
Image credit: Tobey Curtis et al. (2014), NOAA Fisheries
In the images above, shark sightings by season are overlaid on maps of sea surface temperature (SST). As
shown in the key, the redder the color of the ocean, the hotter the SST. The darker blue ocean color
indicates cooler SST.
In the diagram, CC stands for Cape Cod; NYB = New York Bight; CH = Cape Hatteras; FL = Florida; GOM
= Gulf of Mexico; and CS = Caribbean Sea.
17. Based on the information in the sea surface temperature (SST) images above, make a statement
that describes how shark location relates to SST. Be sure to use approximate locations and
temperature values in your description.
8 |S t u d e n t W o r k s h e e t – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – P a r t 2
18. Based on your findings so far, describe what you think are some of the major influencers of shark
movement?
19. What are some unanswered questions you have at this point? These unanswered questions could
form the basis of a scientific research project.
20. Sharks are pretty fierce animals, but they are not immune to threats. What kinds of things or
activities might endanger sharks?
21. Looking at the track of your shark, where are areas that you think the shark could potentially
encounter humans? Mark them on your paper map on page 10 with the letter “x”.
22. How does shark tagging data help us to conserve sharks and shark habitat?
9 |S t u d e n t W o r k s h e e t – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – P a r t 2
10 |S t u d e n t W o r k s h e e t – S h a r k s a n d S h o r e l i n e s – P a r t 2
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