How We Took a Reef Shark to Times Square
July 30th, 2019
A series of 30 cameras, Beastcam captures snapshots of live animals from all angles to form a cohesive 3D model, similar to the technology that video game designers use to create lifelike renders of humans. Usually, to get the amount of information you get from Beastcam, scientists would have to either capture or kill a specimen.
Sharks, lizards, snakes, frogs, flowers, fungi, and invertebrates make up the many species that have been mapped thanks to Beastcam, but recently Irschick has taken the Beastcam underwater to study sharks, and in particular, tiger sharks. It’s as simple as taking a team of scientists armed with GoPros to the seafloor, where they encircle the shark like paparazzi.
The data gathered from this project has been incredibly illuminating when looking for new insight into shark movement. Migrating thousands of kilometers, sharks are some of nature’s best athletes. A recent study on their ability to perform such lengthy swims utilizes locomotion and size data from Irschick’s models to estimate the shark’s energy reserves. Although individual variation is possible, the study suggests that “fatter” sharks tend to have larger energy stores, which not only assists in understanding what makes their migration patterns successful, but also provides a simple metric to assess overall health.
As an effort to democratize 3D modelling, The Digital Life Project has made their models available to download for artistic and educational use, which can be viewed as AR, VR, or even 3D printed, which means you can download the very Caribbean reef shark you see in this video, scanned from our ship Alucia earlier this year.
You can either transpose it onto the scene of your choice using the SketchFab app, or make your own on a 3D printer.
Share yours by tagging us and using the hashtag #oceanxshark.