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Researchers Say Sharks Could Be Used To Predict Hurricanes, Tropical Storms

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File photo of a shark. (credit: ANNA ZIEMINSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of a shark. (credit: ANNA ZIEMINSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

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CORAL GABLES, Fla. (CBS Tampa) - Researchers may have found a way to use sharks as a means of predicting hurricanes and tropical storms.

CBS News is reporting that experts at the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami have found that, through tagging fish with satellite-linked sensors, they can carefully monitor migratory patterns based on water temperature.

Though researchers had been tagging fish and sharks for years, it was recently that marine biologist Jerry Ault and his colleague, Nick Shay, noticed that the tagged fish followed waters that were 79 degrees – the very same temperature as the lower bound for tropical storms.

“These things can talk to us in near-real time through satellites,” Ault told CBS News. “[Forecasters] can update their models a lot faster with high-res information that’s actually there, if they are not dependent on the time lags and costs of having to go out there in the airplanes and drop these sensors.”

He continued: “The animals were tracking the primary metric that was critical for [Shay's] work.”

Those involved in the research also noted that data gleaned from the habits of sharks and other fish allowed them to get information in a safer, cheaper and ultimately faster manner than by other means. In particular, the current method of sending pilots into storms in aircraft.

Researchers at the University of Miami have tagged fish in multiple bodies of water, including the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, CBS News learned.

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