Project

Activities at the Shark Lab

Species
  • Rays & Skates
  • Sharks
Years funded
  • 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
Status
  • Active
Project type
  • Research
Description

Samuel, better known as Doc, has been studying sharks for 50 years. He discovered how sharks see and even gave us insights into how they think. He founded the Bimini Biological Field Station in 1990, and has been training and inspiring young shark researchers ever since.

Activities at the Shark Lab

Sam Gruber

Project leader
About the project leader
As a child in the late 1940s, I was what we in Miami called a ‘water baby’. I used to go down to the docks and look at every fish that was brought in. While the other kids were playing baseball, I was out there looking for sharks and fishes and walking the beaches for miles, collecting seashells. At age 12 I taught myself to scuba dive, and when I was a teenager we used to sail out to the reefs on an 80-foot schooner and spend the weekend on a reef, feasting on the fish we had speared. My interest...
Activities at the Shark Lab

Tristan Guttridge

Project leader
About the project leader
I have always had an extraordinary passion for sharks. I have been utterly mesmerised by them for as long as I can remember. That probably sounds extreme, but sharks have always been part of my life and being in the water with them is where I feel most inspired. I was first introduced to animals and marine life by my granddad. He and I would explore the textures and creatures of our garden and he would tell me about the birds, bees, trees and leaves. He had a voice like David Attenborough’s and I...
PROJECT LOCATION : Bimini, Bahamas
All news about this project
By Eugene Kitsios, 17th February 2017
‘Shooting’ for the Sharklab
We live in an age in which effective science communication is becoming more and more important. We also live in a visual world. Being the media manager for the Bimini Biological Field Station (or Shark Lab) has given me the unique opportunity to showcase the…
By Jack Massuger, 19th September 2016
Hammerheads in the shallows
Bimini in The Bahamas has become world famous for providing the opportunity to dive with – and photograph – great hammerhead sharks in provisioned dives to the west of the island. The sandy seabed at a depth of 10 metres (30 feet), seen through crystal-clear…
By Rachel Cashman, 12th February 2016
Tagging
Waves crash above my elbows and I feel the weight of the shark pulling me down. We’re tethered to the long-line, facing 20-knot winds and five-foot seas in a 20-foot boat with an 11.3-foot tiger shark tied to the side. There is a man screaming…
By Félicie Dhellemmes, 5th January 2016
PIT for personality
When it comes to personality studies in sharks, the bigger the sample size, the better. In the third issue of Save Our Seas magazine, you might have read about how we study personality in juvenile lemon sharks at the Bimini Biological Field Station (also known…
By Chris Bolte, 8th December 2015
Sharks and lasers
My field of vision, already limited by my mask, narrows further as I focus on my camera’s screen through its underwater housing. Having to concentrate so hard means that I am temporarily oblivious to my immediate surroundings, so I’m somewhat startled when I look up…
Project details

Elasmobranch research, education and conservation in Bimini, Bahamas

Key objective

The goal of the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation is to advance knowledge of the biology of sharks and rays, and the role that they play in the marine ecosystem, and to improve their management and conservation as well as enhance public perception and understanding of these fishes.

Why is this important

Adequate conservation and management of shark populations is becoming increasingly important on a global scale with declines documented worldwide. A recent study estimated the total catch and fishing-related mortality for sharks globally was more than 100,000,000 sharks per year. There is an urgent need for the collection of biological information on many shark species, which the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation aims to address.

Background

The following background information relates to two of our objectives that show the diversity of projects that the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation conducts. One is pertinent to management and conservation of large coastal sharks, specifically the great hammerhead, and the other harnesses the lemon shark as a model species for advancing behavioural theory and understanding individual variation.

Great hammerhead: a crucial need for spatial data
The great hammerhead shark Sphyrna mokarran is a target or by-catch species in a wide variety of fisheries throughout its range, and substantial population declines are suspected to have occurred in many areas as a result of fishing. The great hammerhead in particular is highly sought after in the international shark fin trade because of its large fins. It has also been added to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Appendix II and is categorised as Endangered by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List.
A real conundrum for fisheries across the globe is how to reduce capture of hammerheads? Prohibiting retention would not be effective as they have the highest at vessel mortality of any species (about 90%). Thus it is crucial that we understand more about space, habitat use and behaviour of this species. Do they use migratory corridors? Are there spatial hotspots?

Consequences and cause of personality
Personality differences are widespread throughout the animal kingdom and represent individual behavioural variations that are consistent over time. They determine the way animals react to novel and challenging situations, which can affect resource acquisition, social interaction, survival and reproduction. Personalities have been well studied in freshwater fish. However, despite important ecological and evolutionary consequences, nothing is known about personality variation in sharks and other large marine fishes. Personality variation in apex predators, such as sharks, could have implications for the health of marine ecosystems. The attributes of the lemon shark Negaprion brevirostris system in Bimini allow a range of questions to be explored that cannot be asked of many other wild-ranging animal species. Such as, is personality heritable? How do mortality and growth of juvenile sharks correspond to behavioural types or syndromes? Does this correspondence change over ontogeny and ecological conditions?

Aims & objectives

Elasmobranch research, education and conservation in Bimini, Bahamas.