Jaws showed that sharks can be scary and compelling at the same time – so it’s not surprising that there was massive online interest in video of great white sharks putting the bite on an underwater drone sent to record their activities. Called the REMUS SharkCam, the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) in question was developed by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on the USA’s northeastern seaboard to track and research marine animals.

The SharkCam is pre-programmed to home in on signals from transponder beacons attached to animals by means of an omni-directional ultra-short baseline navigational system. This system is a method of underwater acoustic positioning used to track marine animals. The SharkCam is also able to communicate with surface personnel every 10 to 20 seconds to receive navigational commands.

The missile-like SharkCam measures 2,03 metres in length and 19 centimetres in diameter.  At a maximum speed of 5 knots (9,26 km per hour), the AUV is capable of tracking at depths of up to 100 metres. Using six GoPro cameras, the system captures HD video from all sides.

Research tests using the SharkCam were executed in 2013 on both white sharks near Guadaloupe Island off the coast of Mexico, and basking sharks near Cape Cod in Massachusetts in the USA, with promising results. Thus far researchers have learned more about the hunting and prey interaction techniques sharks use.

Although the REMUS SharkCam was initially tested on sharks, Woods Hole plans to use the system to study other large marine animals, such as sea turtles. The TurtleCam is currently in need of funding before research can begin. Click here to read about the TurtleCam.

In the video below the SharkCam travels the ocean around Guadaloupe Island, into white shark territory. A few white sharks get territorial and grab hold of the intruder…

REMUS SharkCam: The hunter and the hunted

Read more about the REMUS SharkCam here.

Video credit/source: Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst.