Tiger sharks, as you may have guessed, owe their name to the somewhat blotchy pattern of stripes they sport on their sides. This is a bit of a trope when it comes to animal names. Generally, if it has stripes and is deemed nice, you call it a zebra something (e.g., zebra fish, zebra finch); if it has stripes and is deemed dangerous, you call it a tiger something (e.g., tiger mosquito, tiger shark). In the case of tiger sharks the name seems to fit quite well on the whole though, as they are rather large, solitary apex predators, thus being true tigers of the sea. This week, however, I don’t want to talk about a species of fish, but an individual animal: meet Crystal.

Crystal is a 3,5m long female tiger shark tagged a few weeks ago with a tracker that provides information on her whereabouts. Whenever she surfaces, the tracker attached to the big fin on her back establishes contact with a number of satellites that determine her position. She was tagged by researchers of OCEARCH, a non-profit organization that runs this tracking programme for research, conservation and education purposes. Information on Crystal, who is currently swimming near the US east coast, is freely available.

Crystal's swimming trip off the coast of North Carolina. The image shows her position between 20 June and 13 July (top right).
Crystal’s swimming trip off the coast of North Carolina. The image shows her position between 20 June and 13 July (top right).

The OCEARCH website allows you to follow many other tagged sharks of several species (including great whites), providing a unique insight into the habits of these awesome animals.

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