The craziest adventure that I have ever been on” says Carl Fiester, a graduate of Northeastern University’s Mechanical Engineering program. Fiester and his team at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have spent a total of 10 days in Guadalupe Island in December. The group came across some of the most eye-opening and intense footage of the great white shark behavior. The group spent a total of 10 days in the water, tagging and tracking great white shark using an autonomous vehicle. The sharks populate the island’s waters off Mexico’s west coast. The Discovery Channel has featured the expedition’s footage and the team as a part of the Shark Week series.
Fiester helped to design the latest version of the SharkCam that can help trace sharks to the depth of 600 meters. It can also track shark up to 100 meters below the water surface. It was used to capture the footage on the expedition. Fiester enjoyed working on the challenges faced by them while preparing the instruments for the expedition. Some of the problems included determination of the best way to fit the nose of the camera so that the device and vehicle work efficiently. The other challenges they faced included making sure that those two vehicles targeted the tagged shark. He said, “We don’t have a live stream as the vehicles are underwater”. He added that it is difficult to determine what one will get until the vehicle surfaces. It might have some bite marks or scratches from great white sharks. Fiester always dreamt of working in marine sciences and at Northeastern University he was able to realise his dream, immersing himself into the field through university’s co-op program. As an undergraduate student, his next co-op was to work at Hydroid, a marine robotic company. Followed by which he had his 3rd co-op ready, working on research and development in marine science and engineering, which he realised while working with Woods Hole Cape Cod. He rejoined them after completion of his graduation. Fiester said “This was my first time working with sharks, and that is some cool stuff, but what is interesting to me is being able to make sure the vehicles follow the acoustic tag on the shark and see where it is going to go. That is an incredibly hard problem to solve and we are the only ones doing it.”