The Shark Ate My Homework: NRDC Submarine Attacked by Shark

white-tailed sea eagle by Hilary Chambers (via Flickr)

I couldn’t help but chuckle a bit when I read Ali’s recent post about “Waldo,” the autonomous submarine launched by NRDC, Oceana, and the Mote Marine Laboratory this past July to explore the waters off the Florida Keys for plumes of underwater oil. Waldo’s mission, it seemed, was cut a bit short (as was Waldo) by a shark. And during Shark Week, to boot.

In a way, it was a a bit of good news. As Lelia points out, all is not well with sharks, and populations of many shark species around the world have plummeted in response to overfishing, bycatch, and shark “finning,” a particularly brutal practice. So at least we know that one shark is alive and well off the Florida coast. 

Even better, despite its slightly abbreviated mission, Waldo did not detect any strong indicators of oil. That’s good for the Keys, because some studies indicate that as much as half of the oil spilled by BP still hovers under the Gulf’s surface (although others differ), and the gentle giants of the shark world, whale sharks, may already have suffered from the spill.