The World of Sharks Podcast

Do sharks glow in the dark? Part 1

Show notes

What happens when you put four self-proclaimed shark nerds in a (virtual) room together to chat about some of the weirdest and most extreme elasmobranchs, and their crazy adaptations? This week I am joined by shark scientists and queens of science communication Jaida Elcock, Meghan Holst and Amani-Webber Schultz. I had such a great time chatting to them that we ended up with quite a lot of material…so we’ve split the episode into two so that you can enjoy it all!

Here at the Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF), we get asked a lot of questions about sharks that push physical and geographical boundaries, so we thought we’d put together a bumper episode that takes a look at some of the species that go to the extremes. In part 1, we learn about the fastest shark in the world, the shortfin mako [16.14]. Jaida tells us why these sharks have a need for speed [17.22], and we discuss the physiological adaptations that have allowed these sharks to reach speeds of up to 45 mph (spoiler: it’s not what you think…). These adaptations are so effective that, as Amani tells us, humans have modelled swimwear on them. In fact, they’re a little too effective – the suits have been banned from swimming competitions in some U.S. states [19.04]!

We then move on to talking about the largest species of shark in the world – the whale shark [20.05]. We learn about their unusual eating habits and a VERY weird fact about their eyelids [21.34]. We also show the second largest species of shark – the basking shark – some love [23.08]. Both species are filter feeders, so we debate which one has the better model… If you’re going to take about the largest species of shark, then you have to give the smallest species a mention! We actually talk about two: Amani brings the dwarf lantern shark to the table [34.08], which can fit in the palm of your hand, whereas Jaida and Meghan argue the pocket shark rivals the dwarf lantern for the title [34.25]. Both are deep-sea species of shark and both have ways of emitting their own light…which brings us nicely on to part 2 of our podcast where we discuss both sharks that glow in the dark, and sharks in the deep sea!

At [25.10], we take a little break from the facts to learn all about Jaida, Amani and Meghan’s fascinating and very diverse research! Jaida is interested in the movement ecology and habitat use of sharks, looking at how sharks move about the oceans and why. Amani’s research focuses on the more morphological aspects of sharks – for example, how their bodies are adapted to suit their different lifestyles and needs. She is particularly interested in shark skin! And Meghan’s research looks at the conservation ecology of specifically broadnose sevengill sharks, asking “what does this species need to survive and thrive?”. These ladies aren’t just amazing shark scientists, but also have a number of different roles – including in advocating for diversity and equality in the marine sciences through their organisations Minorities in Shark Sciences (MISS) and Minorities in Aquarium and Zoo Sciences (MIAZS). You’ll hear more about their work in part 2, so stay tuned!!

About our guests

Amani-Webber Schultz

Amani is a PhD student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology where she will be studying shark morphology. She is a co-founder and the Chief Financial Officer of Minorities in Shark Sciences. Amani co-hosts a podcast called Sharkpedia and is very passionate about science communication.

Aside from her studies, Amani co-hosts the Sharkpedia podcast with Meghan, a podcast that aims to break down science with legendary researchers in the field of shark science! She is also one of the co-founders of Minorities in Shark Sciences (MISS), an organisation dedicated to promoting diversity and equality in shark science by breaking down barriers, improving accessibility and encouraging women of colour to join the field. They believe that “diversity in scientists creates diversity in thought, which leads to innovation.”

Find Amani on social media: Instagram: @curly_biologist; Twitter: @Curly_Biologist; Minorities in Shark Sciences (MISS): @MISS_Elasmo (Twitter), @miss_elasmo (Instagram)


Jaida Elcock

Jaida Elcock is a PhD student in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program. Her research is on shark movement ecology. She is particularly interested in the movement ecology of migratory elasmobranchs, as this information is still unknown for many species. Jaida received her B.S. in Biology with University Honors from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. She has previously lived in landlocked states but has still been able to gain experience with marine animals through an internship at OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale, Arizona. She has also been recognized as an American Elasmobranch Society Young Professional Recruitment Fund Scholar.

Jaida is an enthusiastic science communicator, and you might also know her from her incredible ‘animal facts’ videos on TikTok (she also shares them on Instagram and Twitter).

Along with Amani, Jaida is also a co-founder of MISS and is incredibly passionate about opening doors for under-represented students wanting to break into the marine sciences.

Find Jaida on social media: Instagram: @sofishtication_; Twitter: @soFISHtication; Minorities in Shark Sciences (MISS): @MISS_Elasmo (Twitter), @miss_elasmo (Instagram)

Meghan Holst (@megholst)

Meghan is a working marine scientist, a Ph.D. student, the co-host of the Sharkpedia podcast, and co-founder of Minorities In Aquarium and Zoo Science (MIAZS). Meghan’s dissertation work focuses on the conservation ecology of the broadnose sevengill shark in San Francisco Bay. Meghan’s previous research has also included the behaviour and physiology of the giant Pacific octopus. As a co-host of Sharkpedia, Meghan and Amani break down recent research articles of sharks and their relatives with the primary author and share stories from field research! In addition, Meghan’s work with MIAZS is aimed at advancing aquarium and zoo science by increasing and retaining minority professionals by mitigating financial and social barriers. Meghan intends to continue conducting science, communicating science in a fun and interactive way, and actively working to make the science fields more diverse and inclusive.

Find Meghan on social media: Instagram: @megholst; Twitter: @MegHolst; Minorities in Aquarium and Zoo Sciences (MIAZS): @MIAZS_Now; Sharkpedia podcast: @sharkpediapod, listen wherever you get your podcasts