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Mote Marine scientists return from shark expedition

mote marine
Posted at 5:29 AM, Apr 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-05 05:29:00-04

Mote Marine scientists are returning home to the Suncoast, following a three-week long shark research expedition.

The numbers are biting: 11 scientists from ten institutions catching seven sharks.

The reason? The researchers want to better understand these creatures of the deep so they can better understand their fellow humans.

They set sail from Jacksonville, Florida aboard the M/V Osearch. A large vessel the main purpose of which is to discover the world underneath the ocean.

"A fantastic opportunity to extend our shark research studies into the Atlantic."

The trip began on a rough note with the Atlantic choppy at best according to this video by Osearch.

"It was one of the most brutal trips we've ever had worse weather than South Africa, worse weather than a lot of ocean crossings."

The scientists goal was to get close to the King of the Ocean, the Great White Shark. They didn't catch any but they caught three other types.

"We know those sharks come down to that area this time of year to feed primarily on whale."

They brought seven sharks in total on board, each of them for only 15 minutes. They tagged them, took samples and set them free.

"We'll be able to track their movements all throughout their range. If you go to the Osearch website you can see that they've moved inshore and offshore in a very similar way."

Tracking their movements isn't the only thing these scientists are interested in. Sharks are notoriously healthy creatures. Able to heal wounds at a much more rapid pace than humans.

"They respond very well after they've been cut or wounded and they heal over very rapidly."

Scientist Kim Ritchie was in the brave person collecting baterial samples off these creatures of the deep.

"She's cultering bacterials strands from those that have antibiotic properties in a study of how to develop better antibiotics using these remarkable animals."

This new data collected from sharks could help humans of the future heal faster and prevent disease.

"It's a very collaborative kind of effort, it's a wonderful experience being on this ship with our fellow scientists."

The expedition may have ended but the work has just begun. Scientists are now pouring over information and for the next five years they'll track those sharks to see where they end up.