Brendan Talwar

A crowdfunded ecology project byBrendan Talwar


Jack Johnson loves sharks: Island School Research Symposium 2015

Lab Note #19
Jul 21, 2015

Jack Johnson (seen right), a newly appointed UNEP Goodwill Ambassador, asks the students questions about our research at the Research Symposium & Outreach Expo held in conjunction with the 5 Gyres SEA Change Youth Summit.

The Spring 2015 Island School semester wrapped up earlier this summer after a highly successful Research Symposium & Outreach Expo. This event coincided with the 5 Gyres SEA Change Youth Summit and UNEP designation of Jack Johnson as a UN Goodwill Ambassador for his commitment to environmental causes around the world. What this means for our students is that they had the opportunity to present their research poster to a number of highly influential visitors as well as international middle and high school students. Celine Cousteau, Jack Johnson, representatives of the UN, and Markus Erikson and Anna Cummins (directors of 5 Gyres) were on hand as well as frequent Island School visitors like Eric Carey of the Bahamas National Trust.

Students from the SEA Change Youth Summit draw sharks while blindfolded and play 'Heads-Up' with vocab words about fisheries and the deep sea after reviewing our research poster.

The results that we presented were quite different than those from last semester as a larger sample size afforded us some more conclusive results. First and foremost, the predictors of mortality for Squalus cubensis changed slightly as total length could no longer differentiate between individuals that went on to survive or die after 24 hours, whereas lactate now can. Furthermore, release condition is now a good predictor which is particularly exciting as it can be assigned based on an individual's liveliness while on the boat. What this means is that a fisheries observer in the Gulf of Mexico, where S. cubensis is commonly caught as bycatch, can assign one of these scores to an animal without the need for time consuming sampling and thus easily predict the fate of a discarded shark. If this, in combination with other predictors, were used on a wide scale, our ultimate goal of filling in the gap for post-release mortality in total fishery mortality estimates for this species would be very possible!

And, equally exciting, we added in the results of our trials with gulper sharks! Click here to read the published research poster (seen above) at the Fisheries Conservation Foundation's website for a full update.

The spring 2015 Island School shark research class (from left to right- Khalil Addams-Pilgrim, Stephen Gallagher, Noelle Henderson, Olivia Rask, Maya Abouhamad, and Lucy Zachau).

Lastly, it was a great semester and we're sad to see the students leave, but excited to see what they accomplish next. Thanks so much for all of your hard work!

Let me know if you have any questions and, as always, thanks for your support. The next post will be about the American Elasmobranch Society meeting in Reno, Nevada which just wrapped up yesterday, so stay tuned.



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