Project

Activities at the Shark Lab

Species
  • Rays & Skates
  • Sharks
Years funded
  • 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
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

Kristene Parsons

Project leader
About the project leader

I grew up near the shore of Lake Erie surrounded by the farmlands of Ohio, where my father, an outdoorsman, introduced me to freshwater fishing at a young age. When I was seven I saw my first shark resting against the glass between my wide eyes and its enclosure at the Shedd Aquarium. I was hooked. After earning a BSc from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, I trekked to the Pacific Northwest to survey mountain streams for salmon habitat in the Cascades. In 2002 I travelled to The Bahamas to volunteer with the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation (BBFSF)...

Activities at the Shark Lab

Samuel H. 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...

FORMER PROJECT LEADERTristan Guttridge
PROJECT LOCATION : Bimini, Bahamas
All news about this project
By Molly Kressler, 30th November 2018
Lucky gangion #15
Professional athletes speak often about the adrenaline high that carries them through challenging periods of athleticism. Ask a member of the Shark Lab to describe a longline-caught shark-workup and you will find the response matches the adrenaline-fueled recounting of professional athletes. At the Shark Lab,…
By Clemency White, Principal Investigator, 26th November 2018
Beyond The Tag
When you think of what shark scientists do, it usually conjures up images of tagging sharks and tracking them. Your mind immediately goes to the classic images of a team of scientists working quickly to tag and release huge sharks, it’s always a beautiful clear…
By Amanda Schadowsky - SharkLab volunteer, 21st November 2018
‘Turtle Day’ – A visit from the FSU MTREC group
August 23rd, 2018 was the same as any morning at the Shark Lab, but for me, it will forever be referred to as ‘Turtle Day’. We had visiting research assistants at the lab, from the FSU Marine Turtle Research, Ecology and Conservation (MTREC) Group, who…
By Laura Manning, 22nd October 2018
Capture, work-up, repeat- A day in the life of a SharkLab intern
The plane was boarded and it was time for our flight to Bimini. I peered down upon crystal-clear blue water and thought about the adventure I was in for. The past three years of my life, I have travelled around a variety of countries, each…
By Sophia Emmons, 28th March 2018
Tales from a Shark Stalker
I suppose you never really plan to be a stalker. It probably just happens by accident most of the time. One minute you’re admiring someone or something, then suddenly you’re obsessively following the target around hoping to catch even a glimpse of them. At least…
By Matt Smukall, 27th November 2017
A look inside a lemon
Springtime at the Bimini Shark Lab is usually all about lemon sharks. The mangrove-fringed islands of Bimini are home to one of the longest-running studies on sharks. Each year pregnant lemon sharks drop their pups in the shallow waters around the islands and the juveniles…
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.