This September, Gregory Skomal, a shark specialist at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, tagged a 14-foot-long female great white shark trapped in a tidal bay on Naushon Island, off Cape Cod. Unfortunately, Skomal and his group won't get a chance to find out where she went.
The tag they used has a built-in timer that was supposed to run down on April 1 of this year, triggering the device to release from the shark's fin and float to the surface, where it would have transmitted data by satellite. While the shark was in the shallows, the tag misinterpreted the lack of vertical movement to mean that she had died, and it released itself prematurely. Others have fared better: Klimley tracked a shark that dove below 3,000 feet several times during a five-day journey--a finding that shows that despite their technological limitations, the tags are already giving scientists an unprecedented look into the secret lives of sharks.