Students from Grades 3 to 6 were invited to a special presentation by Ocearch, a team of American scientists behind an innovative and potentially life-saving shark tracking website.

The Ocearch Project team are currently in Australia to tag and track tiger sharks off the Queensland coast.

Year 3 teacher Peter Branagan thinks Camp Hill State Infants and Primary School may be the only, or one of very few schools in Brisbane to receive a visit. 

“There’s a lady at our school whose husband I think is involved in work for Hastings Deering which is one of the sponsors of the program,” he explains.

 “So he was able to get them to visit our school, because they had brought their ship over from the US and it was docked in the Brisbane River.”

Across two sessions expedition leader Chris Fischer from the ship and marine biologists from the University of Queensland showed students footage, information and images of the different shark tracking expeditions that they’ve been on in different places around the world. 

“They showed a couple of clips of ... the apparatus that they use on the side of the boat to lift the shark out of the water, and then how they actually attached the electronic tag to the fin of the shark, and then how that communicates to the satellite, and how they can collect the data aboard the ship..,” Branagan explains. 

Students around Australia and members of the public can then use the Ocearch website to track tagged sharks in real-time, a tool which Branagan has plans for later in the year.

“What I’m planning to do myself is, one of my geography units that we do in Year 3 is looking at places near and far and looking at the Pacific neighbours and Australia and Indonesia ... looking at maps and photos and things like that,” Branagan explains.

The Year 3 teacher says he will use the website as a way of further engaging students in their geography unit.

“...They now can see how it’s [geography] actually used in real life and the value that it has, and I think it just will help them connect with the unit more than us just explaining things that will be relatively abstract to them.

“They can see that you need to know this information because you can then go on and work on a ship and be a marine biologist or track animals.”  

As for the presentation itself, Branagan says the visit was certainly worthwhile and engaging for students.

“I think a lot of kids of that age are interested in animals and specifically dangerous animals like sharks.

“You could just tell by watching on that they were all really attentive and even the questions that they asked, you could tell that they were really interested in the topic and wanted to know more about it,” he says.