Five Incredible Ways NASA Helps With Shark Conservation

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Speckle Skinned Whale Shark

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A speckle-skinned whale shark swimming through the ocean. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center with video footage from Alexpunker through Motion Array and Tom Cook.

While researchers at our partner organizations are straight concentrating on shark preservation, NASA’s Earth-observing satellites gather crucial info about sharks’ environment – the ocean. NASA’s satellites determine the height of the ocean, track currents, display marine environments, and supervise water quality occasions like hazardous algal flowers. Our long-lasting information sets likewise assist us comprehend how environment modification is impacting the ocean and marine life. NASA shares ocean information with preservation groups, scientists and partners like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

1. NASA Satellites Help Track Marine Animals’ Movement

NASA satellite information integrated with field measurements assist researchers build a clearer photo of the travel paths of sharks and other marine animals. In 2019 with the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite (CALIPSO), a joint endeavor in between NASA and the French area company, the Centre National D’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), observed an enormous animal migration that occurs on our world. In this case, marine animals such as fish, krill and squid increase from the ocean depths to the surface area to delight in tiny plants called phytoplankton in addition to smaller sized zooplankton and other animals daily.

CALIPSO Satellite Lidar

NASA’s CALIPSO satellite utilizes lidar to determine the motion of marine wildlife throughout the ocean. Credit: NASA / Timothy Marvel

Studies like this offer info about the food supply offered to sharks and how modifications in environments might affect the health of sharks and other big marine wildlife. Knowing where marine animals are by utilizing NASA satellite information and field observations likewise supports sustainable fishing practices and lowers bycatch.

2. NASA Studies the Productivity of Earth’s Oceans

From area and ships and self-governing undersea lorries, NASA’s EXport Processes in the Ocean from Remote Sensing (EXPORTS) project is studying the ocean’s biological pump – the procedure by which carbon from the environment and surface area ocean is sequestered in the deep ocean. This procedure begins at the surface area, where phytoplankton draw carbon out of the environment through photosynthesis. This begins the marine food web since phytoplankton turn climatic carbon into food when they are consumed by small animals called zooplankton. Those in turn are consumed by fish who are consumed by other fish and big marine animals, consisting of sharks. When fish and marine animals pass away, they can bring the carbon kept in their bodies to the ocean flooring.

EXPORTS Campaign Ships

Three ships utilized in the EXPORTS project – the R/V Sarmiento de Gamboa (foreground), placed near to the RRS James Cook (middle) and RRS Discovery (back) – at a satisfy up point in the northeast Atlantic. Credit: Courtesy of Marley Parker

3. A Hubble Star-Mapping Algorithm Tracks Whale Sharks

Back in 1986, a scientist at Princeton University established an algorithm to map the stars and galaxies caught by NASA’s Hubble Telescope. Now, that algorithm has actually been adjusted to acknowledge the star-like patterns on speckle-skinned whale sharks. This permits the algorithm to recognize specific whale sharks, which assists researchers keep tabs on these unusual, 40-foot-long sharks as part of the Australian non-profit ECOCEAN’s Whale Shark Photo-Identification Library.

Speckle Skinned Whale Shark Diver Tracking Tag

A scuba diver connects a tracking tag to a speckle-skinned whale shark. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center / Paul Morris

4. NASA Measures Changes in Sea Level Rise and Climate Patterns

NASA has actually been determining ocean height for practically 30 years, beginning with the TOPEX/Poseidon satellite objective from 1992-2006 and continuing with the Jason-1, OSTM/Jason-2, Jason-3, and Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich objectives. these satellites can spot modifications in ocean height within an inch, providing exceptionally accurate measurements of water level. This info is vital for comprehending storm intensity, water level increase and environment patterns like La Niña, El Niño and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation that effect marine animals. Sea surface area height information is likewise beneficial for tidying up marine oil spills, sustainably handling fisheries, routing ships and comprehending the habits of ocean animals like Stellar sea lions and whales. In addition, water level measurements are utilized to obtain ocean surface area currents and ocean eddies that continually stir and blend the water, altering its biogeochemistry and therefore affecting the habits and migration patterns of sharks.

Total Sea Level Change Between 1992 and 2019

This visualization reveals overall water level modification in between 1992 and 2019, with orange/red areas showing where water level are increasing. Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

5. NASA Is Developing New Missions to Study Earth’s Oceans

NASA has 3 brand-new objectives prepared to study the ocean. Scheduled to release in 2022, the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) objective will determine small ocean currents and swirling eddies to much better comprehend the blending and transportation of water and nutrients in addition to the dispersal of contamination into the ocean. Monitoring ocean eddies is very important to forecast migratory patterns of megafauna, consisting of sharks. SWOT is collectively established by NASA and CNES with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and United Kingdom Space Agency.

SWOT Satellite

An artist’s impression of the future SWOT satellite making sea surface area observations, even through clouds. Credit: Centre National D’Etudes Spatiales (CNES)

The Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (RATE) objective will utilize next generation “ocean color” innovation for more information about phytoplankton that reside in the upper ocean. In addition to being the base of the marine food web, phytoplankton play a comparable function to land plants by taking in co2 and producing oxygen.

The Geosynchronous Littoral Imaging and Monitoring Radiometer (GLIMR) instrument will offer special observations of ocean biology, chemistry and ecology in the Gulf of Mexico, parts of the southeastern United States shoreline and the mouth of the Amazon River where it gets in the Atlantic Ocean. In the future, NASA’s upcoming Earth System Observatory will utilize brand-new and ingenious methods to study all elements of our world, consisting of the more than 70% of Earth’s surface area covered by ocean.



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