On the water with OCEARCH

BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) - A team of scientists and researchers with OCEARCH have set sail on the Port Royal Sound, right off the coast of Hilton Head Island.

They are researching and tagging great white sharks in the area as part of Expedition Lowcountry. Aboard this ship right off the coast of Hilton Head, this is Expedition Lowcountry, OCEARCH's 28th excursion.

The team is hard at work capturing, tagging and releasing apex predators, like great whites, tiger, bull, and sandbar sharks. The goal is to track and gather data on the sharks they catch here to gain insight on these animals and learn how to better protect them.

While the weather conditions Monday kept the boat from venturing out, the crew is taking their work ashore to the Maritime Center in Okatie. Monday night they are hosting a meet-and-greet with the public to share their research and stories from the sea.

"If we lose our large sharks, there will be no fish for our grandchildren to eat.  They are the balance-keepers. They are the lions of the ocean," said founding chairman and expedition leader, Chris Fischer. "And without a healthy population at the top of the food chair, there's not going to be fish for our grandchildren to eat. So really what we're trying to do is solve that fundamental puzzle to help the ocean move towards maximum abundance for our kids."

Expedition Lowcountry, which includes studies done off the coasts of Georgia and North Carolina along with South Carolina, will take place until March 15.

Copyright 2017 WTOC. All rights reserved.