VIDEO

TAG YOU’RE IT! CLIP

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Wildlife conservation is endlessly complex, and it requires a deep understanding of animal behavior.

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Monitoring the movements and migration of species is critical science, and new technology is making the tracking process safer, more efficient and more accurate all the time.

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Today I'm meeting up with Doctor Chris Lowe from California State University, Long Beach.

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He heads up a research unit called the Shark Lab.

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They're going to take me out on the water today, we're going to tag sharks and they'll teach me all about their data collection.

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Can't wait.

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The Shark Lab has been a pioneer in shark tacking technology for more than 40 years.

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And in 1979, Mutual of Omaha's Marlin Perkins was along for the ride to help deploy some of the first ever shark tracking devices.

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The transmitter is inserted inside a parrotfish, which a shark will swallow.

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Although revolutionary at the time, the first tracking devices were large, had limited range, and only lasted a few days.

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Things are much different today.

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I'm with the director of the Shark Club, Doctor Chris Lowe and his team of research students from California State University, Long Beach with a nice send off from harbor Pelicans.

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We traveled south of Santa Barbara to a white shark hotspot location known as Pedaro Beach.

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We have some of your team members on this boat and what is the goal for today?

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So the goal for us today is to continue doing what we've been doing for the last six years and that is tag more sharks so we can monitor their behavior.

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So this is one of our acoustic transmitters.

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Each transmitter has a unique ID, so as the shark is moving through the water, we not only know where it is in proximity to a receiver, but we know the depth that it's at.

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And then this is the dart.

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This gets darted into the shark's back, and sharks have very tough skin, so this isn't painful or traumatic for them.

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Think about getting your ears pierced.

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I've done that.

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We we think it's very analogous to that.

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You'll get a little flinch.

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And then after that, our biggest challenge is not tagging the same shark twice.

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Doctor Lowe utilizes a network of 120 acoustic receivers scattered along California's coast.

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These receivers listen for signals from shark transmitters and relay scientists real time data about shark behavior.

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I have a job for you today.

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Oh, yeah? You're going to be our underwater camera person who's going to help us determine whether they're males or females.

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And the way we do this is we have a camera on the end of a pole and you're going to dip that underneath so we can see the under part of the shark.

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I understand my assignment.

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I want to see how it's done.

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All right, let's do it.

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We're using a drone piloted by Chris's student Patrick to help us locate juvenile great whites in the shallow water.

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All right.

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It's a little deep right there.

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Can you see it?

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And we're coming up on.

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Oh, I see.

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It's got a tag in it.

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It's got a tag.

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This shark is already tagged, so it's the perfect opportunity for me to try my skill with the camera.

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Get a little closer, almost aim, like, for its pec fins or belly, and then when it spins, it'll like swim over the camera.

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You are you're magic.

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There you go.

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You got it.

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She got it on her first time.

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Did I get it?

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Oh, absolutely.

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That was a big shark.

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That's a baby.

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That's a baby.

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That's a toddler.

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So I have to ask the shark.

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I saw it and I saw it's tag in its dorsal fin.

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Is that your tag?

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Yes.

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So we just happened to find a shark that you've met before.

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Wow.

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The search is on for an untagged juvenile.

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And here comes one now.

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Oh, yeah.

3:55
Ok, that's definitely workable.

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All right, perfect.

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It's coming up.

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Get ready a little bit more.

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A little bit more.

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Go, go, go, go.

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Yeah.

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Yeah, yeah.

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Go, go.

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Yeah.

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Ok, we got a female. Nice job with the dip can.

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You crushed it.

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It was not easy.

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But you are coaching me.

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You are an awesome dip cam coach.

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Now that this great white shark has been identified, it's up to Chris to deploy the tracking tag.

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Yeah, right in the glare.

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Oh, go, go, go.

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Whoa, oh, you got it. Tag away, tag away.

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Heck yeah.

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Good. Chris and our animal tagging adventure is just getting started.

Updated on May 28, 2024

Tag isn’t just a fun childhood game — it’s a vital piece of the conservation puzzle. Learn why tagging is critical to conservation.

Peter and Dr. Rae explore how modern tagging technology aids the fight to protect the wild kingdom. Dr. Rae joins a team of researchers from California State University to locate and tag sharks in the ocean so they can monitor them and collect data. Then at a national wildlife refuge in Texas, Peter tracks a prairie chicken tagged with a transmitter. Meanwhile, Dr. Rae helps corral tagged birds by hand and learns how to ID them by the unique bands they’ve been fitted with. Finally, Peter visits the Florida Aquarium where a young sea turtle is rehabilitated then released back to the ocean with a satellite tag that will allow researchers to track its movements over thousands of miles.

For more insight into the animals featured on this episode, check out a behind the scenes look of the Attwater’s prairie chicken and shark filming. Plus, dive into the world of sea turtle conservation.

Watch “Tag You’re It!” on NBC.com and the NBC app.

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