Jasmin and her team create content to teach the general public about elasmobranchs (sharks, skates and rays), the threats they face and current conservation efforts to protect them. Gill Guardians is a freely available online hub that connects people globally to engage with elasmobranch science and conservation. They offer video lessons, activities and quizzes. They also host live virtual seminars to bridge the gap between scientists and the public, and grow a new generation of conservation-minded shark advocates.
Elasmobranch ecology and evolution is my special field of interest, with past research topics including the movement ecology of the smalltooth sawfish and the phylogeny of hammerhead sharks. I’m a member of the American Elasmobranch Society and served on its Student Affairs Committee for two years. I have completed internships with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Fort Johnson Marine Lab and FWC Division of Marine Fisheries Management, and worked as an instructor for the Saturday at the Sea programme through the Florida State University Office of STEM Teaching Activities. Science education and making science more accessible for...
The key objective of this project is to increase scientific literacy and engage stakeholders in elasmobranch conservation so that they can be allies in the fight to protect the world’s oceans and their inhabitants.
As environmental pressures, many of which are driven by humans, continue to increase, we are seeing declines in many elasmobranch species. By raising awareness about these declines and cultivating a scientifically literate society, we hope to create a societal shift that will push for increased protection for threatened species. Providing the public with accessible and up-to-date scientific information can help them stay well informed and bridge the gap between scientists, policy-makers and the public.
For this project we will be creating an online educational resource for the general public that will synthesise current research in the field of elasmobranch conservation. The site will feature self-guided courses and lessons for people to learn about the many endangered elasmobranch species. It will contain video lectures, activities, videos from the field, infographics and articles. Visitors to the site will have an opportunity to learn more about marine policy as it relates to endangered elasmobranchs and will be provided with information about basic biology, a history of elasmobranch conservation and tips for identifying species. The site will also create a space for accessible communication of the latest elasmobranch conservation research. It will not only have materials for adults, but will also feature age-appropriate conservation lessons. In addition to the site, I will create materials and activities that will facilitate engaging with the public at events.
The general aim is to create educational resources that allow the general public to engage with conservation science and marine policy in an accessible and synthesised manner. We will accomplish this by focusing on five main objectives:
Outside the USA, The Bahamas is the only place where Critically Endangered smalltooth sawfish can reliably be found. Tristan wants to ensure that protection measures in The Bahamas are understood and enforced as far as sawfish are concerned to close the current gap between policy and the people. He’ll be using aerial surveys, sonar and BRUVs, combined with interviews that draw on local knowledge, to identify essential sawfish habitats that need protection. Engaging with the community through workshops and by training students and meeting with government, Tristan intends to advocate for smalltooth sawfish protection throughout The Bahamas’ territorial waters.
Steven and Kevin are using genetic techniques to understand how Caribbean reef shark populations are connected across the extent of their range. Populations of this Endangered shark are in decline generally, but where they are managed and there is effective protection, their numbers are stable. With the integration of the correct information, Steven and Kevin are convinced that we can give Caribbean reef sharks a better shot at recovery and population stabilisation. They will also explore any barriers to connectivity, looking to the future recruitment and recovery of these sharks.
With very little information available about Endangered sicklefin devil rays, their seasonal aggregations at sea mounts in the Azores give Sophie an opportunity to learn more about their lives. She will be collecting satellite-tracking data that show how they move in the Azores’ exclusive economic zone. The information she collects will be used to develop maps of how the rays are using the zone and to identify essential areas that multiple species use. With this information at hand, Sophie hopes her work can contribute to a network of marine protected areas.