sharks

Marine protected area helps shark populations recover from fishing

Publication specs

Title: Evidence for rapid recovery of shark populations within a coral reef marine protected area

Authors: Conrad Speed, Mike Cappo, Mark Meekan

Journal: Biological Conservation

Year: 2018

The diminishing number of sharks around the world is no longer a topic of interest just for scientists and fisheries managers. Many people who rely on these animals as resources – whether as food or for ecotourism operations – are becoming aware of the menacing situation facing certain shark populations due to overfishing, shark finning, habitat loss, and climate change. Until now, there has been little evidence that marine protected areas benefit sharks in coral reef habitats. Thanks to Paul G. Allen Philanthropies, the first results coming from our sampling provide insight into the recovery of grey reef sharks and apex predator species like the tiger shark and lemon shark at a remote atoll in the Indian ocean.

Ashmore reef is situated 350km northwest of Australia’s mainland, and has been an enforced no-take marine protected area (MPA) since 2008. Although the official establishment of the Ashmore Reef National Nature Reserve was in 1983, only occasional monitoring of the area was happening until 2008 when a government vessel became stationed there 300 days out of the year. Prior to the inception of the MPA, there was legal and illegal targeted shark fishing. In 2004, researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) conducted baited remoted underwater video surveys (BRUVs) at Ashmore Reef. The AIMS research team then returned in 2016 to repeat the study as part of our global survey of sharks and rays on coral reefs around the world.

This provided the ideal set-up to study Ashmore Reef shark populations before and after full protection. Findings show:

 

The relative average number of grey reef sharks (measured as the maximum number of individuals per camera drop; MaxN) increased from about 0.16 individuals per hour in 2004 to approximately 0.74 individuals per hour in 2016.

 

 

The proportion of reef sharks (grey reef sharks, blacktip reef sharks, and silvertip sharks) in the assemblage increased from 28.6% in 2004 to 57.6% in 2016.28.6%  57.6%
 

 

The proportion of apex species (tiger sharks, lemon sharks, scalloped hammerheads, and fossil sharks) in the assemblage increased from 7.1% in 2004 to 11.9% in 2016.
 
 
 

 


 7.1%  11.9%
 

 

This study is not only our project’s first publication, it is also one of the first of its kind in a coral reef ecosystem to highlight that enforcement in a marine protected area aided shark population recovery and at a rate much faster than previously predicted by demographic models.

Another day, another milestone

CORDIO samples Tanzania

FinPrint Spotlight


Author: Clay Obota, MSc

Organization: CORDIO East Africa

Biography: Clay joined CORDIO as an intern working under the Fishery Aggregating Devices project and advanced to a research assistant working on marine biology/ecology, fish population dynamics, fish stock assessment, and fisheries management.

On March 13th 2017, representatives from Kenya and Mozambique set off by road from Mombasa on the Kenyan coast to Tanga, 175km south of Mombasa, in Tanzania, to learn how to do baited remote underwater video surveys (BRUVs) to record shark populations as a part of the Global FinPrint project. The travelers were myself, Clay Obota, Kennedy Osuka, and Melita Samoilys from CORDIO, Benedict Kiilu from Kenya Fisheries Service, and Gelica Inteca from Uni Lurio in Pemba, Mozambique. That evening we met at the Mkonge Hotel in Tanga with our three Tanzanian counterparts: Hassan Kalombo, the Regional Fisheries Officer, January Ndagala, Acting Warden of the Coelacanth Marine Park, and Hakim Matola from TAFIRI in Dar es Salaam, as well as the lead trainer, Dr. Jordan Goetze, from Curtin University in Perth, Australia.

All the participants were guileless and eager to learn about BRUVs, in particular how to analyze, interpret, and use the data collected from the videos. Jordan kicked off the training with a day on land including lectures, discussions, and hands-on practice with the equipment. The lectures covered how to survey fish abundance using BRUVs with detailed procedures on calibration, deployment, and field data management. This was followed by hands-on training setting up all the equipment for deployment. This consisted of five GoPro cameras mounted in housings on a light aluminium frame or rig, and meters of rope.

Since most of us were new to using BRUVs, this was set to be a hard day for Jordan, but we worked against all odds and managed to do 15 drops. Just like experts, we picked up the science quickly. After multiple one hour deployments, we managed to deploy the BRUVs at two sites: Nyuli (2 sets) and Mwamba Nyama (1 set). Seven connected reef systems were mapped and marked for sampling on the rocky and fringing reefs along the coast of Tanga, North of Tanzania. The success of the first day was a clear indication of future productivity. The following days were a walk in the park where each team worked efficiently with smiles and laughter lighting up the experience. 


From bait preparation to BRUV deployments and pick-ups, everyone worked hard as a team on the second day of sampling the reef systems of Fungu Tangoni and Karange, where we set 20 BRUVs. We almost lost one video frame due to strong currents on the third day while sampling Karange and Jambe. We had to pull it out and redeploy it in shallower water. Mwamba Nyama, Mwamba Wamba, and Chundo Kiroba reef systems were successfully sampled on the fourth day, with the deployment and retrieval of 20 BRUVs before 4pm, the fastest day since the beginning of the field trip thanks to low currents and smooth deployments.

Chundo Kiroba and Mwamba Wamba reef systems were sampled on the fifth day. Although the team was eager to deploy as many BRUVs as the previous day, the tides were strong making this goal challenging. The last deployment for the day at Chundo Kiroba reef was set to a depth of 40m. It had to be retrieved and re-set at 35m since the currents were strong and the rigs were drifting. Even with the strong currents, the team managed to maintain 20 drops on this day as well.

On the last sampling day, the BRUV team worked without Jordan for a half day. The team completed 10 more drops for a total of 105 drops over the course of the entire sampling trip, 15 drops more than the initial target of 90 on Tanga’s reefs. This was a great achievement thanks to the excellent team spirit and enthusiasm from everyone who learned efficient BRUV techniques.

As we felt confident in this methodology, the idea of using BRUVs as a tool for estimating population size of large fishes including sharks became increasingly popular across the participants from the three countries. The team is now looking forward to opportunities to use these acquired skills. CORDIO will be coordinating reef sampling in Kenya and Mozambique later this year to estimate shark populations, again as part of the Global FinPrint project.

A predator’s role in storing carbon

Publication specs

Title: Predators help protect carbon stocks in blue carbon ecosystems

Authors: Trisha B. Atwood, Rod M. Connolly, Euan G. Ritchie, Catherine E. Lovelock, Michael R. Heithaus, Graeme C. Hays, James W. Fourqurean, Peter I. Macreadie

Journal: Nature Climate Change

Year: 2015

When you think about carbon (C) storage in an ecosystem, you may think about a lush tropical forest sucking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. What isn’t considered as often is coastal marine ecosystems, which take up C 40 times faster than tropical forests. An estimated 25 billion tons of C is buried in vegetated coastal habitats like seagrass meadows, mangroves, and salt marshes, making them the most C rich environments in the world. Degrading these “blue carbon ecosystems” releases C into our atmosphere, fueling climate change. But did you know that losing predators like sharks within these environments also indirectly leads to the release of C?

One example of this comes from Western Australia where sharks influence how often herbivores like dugongs and sea turtles feed in a given time period. These grazers like to eat in places where there are very few tiger sharks waiting to attack them. In habitats where sharks are present, they spend more time watching their backs. This means that less seagrass is being consumed, and in some cases is only being cropped. In the areas where sharks are present and there are fewer grazers, the seagrasses are mostly slow growing species, which promotes the storage of C since it is not breaking down quickly. In other words, where the abundance and behavior of herbivores are being controlled by predators, growth of vegetation is enhanced, which leads to increased storage of C.

Scientists don’t know the total global area affected by the loss of predators. However, if only 1% of the vegetated coastal areas were to be affected, about 460 million tons of C would be released, equivalent to the emissions from 97 million cars. In order to protect these blue carbon ecosystems, balanced conservation efforts will need to occur where the habitat, predators, and herbivores are protected together.

Global patterns of shark and ray bycatch

Publication specs

Title: Global patterns in the bycatch of sharks and rays

Authors: Shelby Oliver, Matias Braccini, Stephen J. Newman, Euan S. Harvey  

Journal: Marine Policy

Year: 2015

The left-behind, the unwanted, the unmanaged – whatever you want to call it, bycatch is prevalent in commercial fisheries. Sharks and rays are at risk of becoming bycatch in all commercial fisheries. So what exactly is bycatch? Bycatch is the discarded (dead or alive) catch and/or unmanaged catch from fisheries. While fishing for particular species, fishers often catch unwanted species using longlines, trawls, gillnets, and purse-seines. It is common for these so-called undesired species to be illegally kept and later sold, particularly in the case of some sharks and rays, whose fins sometimes end up in the lucrative fin trade.

This study reviewed relevant data from global commercial fisheries. Most of the data came from the North Atlantic Ocean, which is not where the majority of fishing occurs. This suggests that most fisheries are not effectively reporting bycatch data. Shark bycatch mainly occurred in the South Atlantic pelagic longline fishery. No patterns were found in ray bycatch, likely due to a lack of data reporting. For both sharks and rays, the largest total annual bycatch took place in pelagic longline and deep sea/coastal trawl fisheries. One shark species dominated longline bycatch – the blue shark, pictured above – which may make up more of the catch than the actual target species. Rays are not exempt from unregulated fishing, and as a group are considered more threatened than sharks. Perhaps even more alarming is that the majority of ray bycatch comes from commercial trawl fisheries where they are often thrown back into the ocean, left for dead. 

Below is an overview of the prevailing species caught as bycatch by region:

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-11-16-46-am


Sharks

  • Blue sharks – North & South Atlantic, Western Pacific
  • Silky & thresher sharks – Indian Ocean & Eastern Pacific

Rays

  • Pelagic rays – South Atlantic, Western Pacific & Indian Ocean

Sharks

  • Sharpnose sharks – North Atlantic
  • Dogfish – South Atlantic, Eastern & Western Pacific
  • Carpet sharks – Indian Ocean

Rays

  • Skates – North & South Atlantic


Sharks

  • Blacktip shark – North Atlantic
  • Sevengill sharks & shortnose spurdogs – Indian Ocean
  • Catsharks – Eastern Pacific

Rays

  • Cownose rays – North Atlantic
  • Bat rays – Indian Ocean & Eastern Pacific


Sharks

  • Coastal sharks (e.g. blacktip, bull, and dusky sharks) – North Atlantic & Eastern Pacific
  • Silky sharks – South Atlantic & Indian Ocean

Rays

  • Manta & devil rays – South Atlantic, Eastern Pacific & Indian Ocean


These results suggest that global shark and ray bycatch monitoring – data collection and availability – should become high priority for management. Sharks and rays are important fishery and tourism resources, especially in developing nations, so it is vital to find out if these levels of bycatch are sustainable for each species. Should the current levels of shark and ray bycatch in commercial fisheries not be sustainable, regulations would have to be modified or developed and enforced to safeguard their future.

Protecting migrating shark species isn’t always easy

Publication Specs

Title: Conservation challenges of sharks with continental scale migrations

Authors: Michelle R. Heupel, Colin A. Simpfendorfer, Mario Espinoza, Amy F. Smoothey, Andrew Tobin and Victor Peddemors

Journal: Frontiers in Marine Science

Year: 2015

It’s no surprise to anyone that sharks can move. What may be surprising is that some shark species can move thousands of kilometers, traveling across multiple jurisdictions. When sharks swim across state, national, and international boundaries they are exposing themselves to varying levels of threats and protections. In order for conservation measures to be effective for mobile species, knowledge of the scale of movement is required.

Bull sharks are no strangers to long-distance movements, being known to travel hundreds of kilometers. On the Australian East coast, researchers studied bull shark movements across two state jurisdictions: Queensland (QLD) and New South Wales (NSW) using acoustic telemetry. Tracking devices were surgically inserted into 114 bull sharks, which then transmitted their signals to fixed receivers. When a tagged shark swam past the receiver, data on that individual was stored and later retrieved.  

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On average, the bull sharks were found to travel 1194km with no evidence of individuals making movements based on the time of year. The sharks were detected on multiple receivers at various sites, which is evidence that these sharks are connecting temperate and tropical systems while also crossing state boundaries.

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-3-23-18-pm

Larger juveniles and adults were found to swim the furthest, with multiple hypotheses for this behavior:

  • The shift in diet from juvenile to adulthood
  • The need to reduce competition for food
  • To avoid eating their own kin
  • Less tolerance for nearshore freshwater
  • A combination of all of the above

Since bull sharks are frequently moving along the eastern coast of Australia, current marine protected area zoning may have limited benefits for this species. Managers face complex challenges when making conservation decisions that affect highly mobile shark species. This study highlights the need for jurisdictional cooperation between QLD and NSW that would lead to effective marine protected area zoning, which could include movement corridors for bull sharks. Nonetheless, managers face difficult decisions in terms of negotiation and coordination with different governments when trying to protect species that move across state, national, and international boundaries. Studies like this one will improve our knowledge of shark movements in order to facilitate the decision-making process that will lead to effective conservation measures.

Mozambique Mission 2016

FinPrint Spotlight

                                                                      Anna FlamAlexandra Watts

In August, the Global FinPrint team headed to Mozambique to assess the marine life found on the reefs around Vilanculos and Bazarut Archipelago National Park. Anna Flam (left) and Alexandra Watts (right) from the locally based Marine Megafauna Foundation joined the team to deploy baited underwater videos (BRUVs). Alexandra Watts reports from the field.

The Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF) has been researching large fish such as sharks and rays in southern Mozambique for over 10 years. So we were really excited when the Global FinPrint research team invited us to help them with the reef assessment in this beautiful and biodiverse part of Mozambique. The goal of this collaboration was to complete half the BRUV drops inside the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park and half outside, to look at the differences inside and outside the protected area. After the equipment arrived from Australia, we began setting up the BRUVs by securing frames, legs, GoPro housings, ropes, buoys and floats, batteries – these had to stay dry until ready for use.

central-mozambique-aug-2016

The first day, we waddled down to the beach; each laden with various bits of the BRUV kits, and loaded them onto the boat with the help of Zito, our local skipper. We were aiming for the northern end of the archipelago and dropped around ‘Spaghettis’ and ‘Three trees’ – reefs on the northeast side of Bazaruto Island. Luckily, the weather was on our side and we were able to drop here for several days. By day 3 and 4, the weather had closed in a little and so we stayed closer to Vilanculos, on our second site at Two Mile reef.

Photo: Alexandra Watts

Photo: Alexandra Watts

After the first few days, we eagerly waited as the experienced BRUVers Conrad Speed and Jordan Goetze downloaded all the footage and replayed it. The footage was fantastic. Moon wrasse, yellow snapper, red fanged trigger fish, sailfin tangs and a giant guitarfish were just part of a kaleidoscope of species of all shapes and colour. Within the first day the guys had noticed something they had never seen before; schooling Moorish idols. They saw this species in Australia and other locations but never in such huge numbers before. Moray eels took a particular interest in the bait bags, grabbing them and death rolling to get access to the fish, while an octopus and a blotched fantail ray just sat on top of the entire bag, preventing anything else from getting access.

moorish-idols

Moorish idols surround bait bag

BRUVs are a useful tool to collect data on marine species composition and information such as this can be communicated to local government. Sampling is often done using underwater surveys. However, BRUVs are especially useful for avoiding biases with these techniques such as behaviour changes by species in response to a diver carrying out video surveys. This is important when carrying out species counts – fish which actively avoid divers may cause a species to be completely omitted from a study, resulting in an inaccurate account of species within an area. It is also an efficient census technique – they don’t require skilled divers in the water and all the associated risks and technical equipment. They can be left on the seafloor without an operator, simply with a marker nearby to make it easy to find them, whilst further work can be continued elsewhere.

Technically, this is an advantage. But, after reviewing some of the footage, we wish we had been there to see it with our own eyes – not only did we have visits from both reef and giant manta rays but also smalleye stingrays, round ribbontail (aka blotched fantail) rays, pink whiprays, Jenkins’ whipray, spotted eagle ray, bull sharks, blacktip sharks, blacktip reef sharks, grey reef sharks, and whitetip reef sharks.

We were also specifically looking out for dugongs, which are one of the only herbivorous marine mammals in the world and rare inhabitants off the coast of Africa. This animal is extremely sensitive to anthropogenic threats such as gill netting, hunting, pollution, habitat loss, and coastal development. Population numbers have been drastically reduced in East Africa. The Bazaruto Archipelago population is now possibly the only viable population in Africa, and the second largest in the Western Indian Ocean. And, although we didn’t manage to see one face to face, we did get a couple of glimpses of these curious animals on BRUVs!

A dugong casually swims past one of the BRUVs.

Analysis of the footage is (understandably) time-consuming and will take a little longer until we can begin to summarise the findings. It was an absolute pleasure for Anna and myself to be involved in this study and we hope it paves the way for further collaborations of this nature. The more marine scientists can connect and work together on both international and regional projects, the more efficient research becomes. Human pressures have exerted such a huge threat to so many forms of marine life that the oceans are reaching a breaking point. Targeted conservation initiatives – informed by projects such as this – are the only way we are going to begin to make a difference.

Conrad carefully drops the BRUV. Photo: Alexandra Watts

Conrad carefully drops the BRUV. Photo: Alexandra Watts

Shark sanctuaries need enforcement

Publication Specs

Title: Indicators of fishing mortality on reef-shark populations in the world’s first shark sanctuary: the need for surveillance and enforcement
Authors: Gabriel M.S. Vianna, Mark G. Meekan, Jonathan L.W. Ruppert, Tova H. Bornovski, Jessica J. Meeuwig
Journal: Coral Reefs
Year: 2016

When you think of a shark sanctuary what do you imagine? Perhaps a beautiful coral reef that is a blue haven for sharks? Hold that thought while we take a moment to examine reality through the eyes of science.

A recent study in Palau evaluated the world’s first shark sanctuary using underwater visual surveys. This shark sanctuary covers an area of 629,000km2 and was declared in 2009 to try to stop foreign long-line vessels from finning sharks. However, this study demonstrated that illegal, underreported, and unregulated shark fishing is still present within the sanctuary, particularly in remote offshore areas. In these areas, there was an abundance of lost fishing gear and there were fewer and smaller sharks than close to shore.

Sometimes marine protected areas, like shark sanctuaries, get a bad rap as “paper parks”, or protected areas that are essentially just written on paper because they lack the enforcement required to truly protect species living within them. Palau may have created an important management tool, but they are lacking the resources required to follow through on regulations. This study also sheds light on the fact that without baseline data on shark populations within the proposed protected zones, it becomes difficult to monitor their effectiveness over time. If we truly want a blue haven for sharks, the research demonstrates that enforcement within shark sanctuaries is an urgent need. The country’s government is currently expanding enforcement efforts within the shark sanctuary.

Bahamas Mission 2016

In 2016, the Chapman lab sampled six reefs in the Bahamas, thanks to the Moore Bahamas Foundation, Cape Eleuthera Institute, and the International SeaKeepers Society. In collaboration with these organizations, student Gina Clementi, project coordinator Jasmine Valentin-Albanese, and volunteer Jessica Quinlan set a total of 278 baited remote underwater videos (BRUVs), which produced amazing data and footage from the shark sanctuary.

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lemon-shark

tiger-shark

 

Our lead principal investigator Demian Chapman and social media manager Katie Flowers accompanied this mission by participating in local outreach sessions led by the Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation (BREEF). You can find their blog post about this mission, originally published on louisbacon.com, below.

 

cay-focus-photography

© Cay Focus Photography

 

Life’s Better in the Bahamas Shark Sanctuary

Most of you have probably heard it somewhere before, the iconic piece of information shared tirelessly and sometimes incorrectly attributed to nothing but shark finning, “100 million sharks are killed every year”. Although this is an alarming number, it’s actually better to look at the range from the larger study estimating exploitation rates of sharks: 63 million – 273 million sharks killed annually. One hundred million is thus a conservative estimate, and the shark fin trade is not fully responsible for those landings. Data aside, the more important question now is what can we do about these losses?

The answer may partially lie in the Bahamas. Before the study mentioned above even came out, the island nation made a progressive choice by fully protecting its sharks from fishing in 2011. Bahamians had put two and two together: many shark species in their waters live there either partially or year-round, and these sharks are worth big bucks alive – a 2007 estimate of $78M US in the Bahamas alone (Report of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism). The Bahamas is one of the best places in the Caribbean and arguably the world to dive with sharks, which might not be the case if populations were under high fishing pressure.

Dr. Demian Chapman, a marine biologist and shark expert formally at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and now at Florida International University’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education leads a global study of sharks and rays called Global FinPrint. It is a project that partially stems from the 2013 study by asking some of the next most valuable questions including: where on the world’s coral reefs do we find many sharks and rays and why are they there? The project sets GoPro cameras on the seafloor to estimate shark and ray abundance and diversity. So far, the Bahamas has been one of the leaders in this study (see video), with sharks and rays on almost every survey, including several with endangered great hammerheads. This project along with a tagging expedition in its fourth year have certainly made life better for sharks in the Bahamas, thanks to Louis Bacon’s Moore Bahamas Foundation.

The Bahamas has emerged as a leader in shark conservation, and the sanctuary could be a model to replicate for countries looking to protect their sharks and boost their economy. Extending this same protection to rays, the lesser-known cousins of sharks who play their own vital roles in the ocean’s ecosystem, would make sense. The Bahamas is one of the few places on earth where you can find the critically endangered smalltooth sawfish, a ray that is often confused with a shark. Their populations have seen about a 95% decline since the 1960s. Yet these sawfish are not granted protection in the country, nor are the other species of rays that could bring in even more tourism money. It is the belief of Global FinPrint that the Bahamas can take the next innovative step to make them a world leader in shark and ray conservation by granting rays full protection.   

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Smalltooth sawfish Photo: Katie Flowers

 

Impacts of sharks on coral reef ecosystems

Do healthy reefs need sharks? This is one of the most misunderstood questions in coral reef ecology. Shark populations are declining due to habitat loss, overfishing, and other stressors. It is important to understand how these losses could affect the rest of the ecosystem.

Understanding the predator-prey interactions between herbivores and sharks is crucial for coral reef conservation. As top predators, sharks not only eat other fish, but they can also affect their behavior. In the presence of sharks, herbivorous fish may be concentrating their grazing to small, sheltered areas. Because these fish would likely be eating where they are safe from predators, there should be more space to allow young coral to settle, grow, and thrive. In the absence of sharks, herbivorous fish may spread out their grazing randomly across large patches of algae, leaving few well-defined or cleared areas for corals to settle.

Fortunately,Untitled Florida International University has just the place to explore these dynamic questions, a lab under the sea – Aquarius Reef Base. From September 7th to 14th, a mission at Aquarius Reef Base will combine sonar with baited remote underwater video surveys (BRUVs), an experiment the first of its kind to bring these technologies together. Researchers on this mission strive to understand the direct impact of shark presence on herbivorous fish behavior as well as the indirect impact of sharks on algae communities. Combining these technologies:

 

  • Provides a new way to study reef fish behavior
  • Carves the path forward for future ecological research
  • Offers insights that may lead to critical marine conservation outcomes

Below are data produced from last year’s shark mission: a shark swims by the remote camera and shows up on the multi-beam imaging sonar.

© FIU, Dr. Kevin Boswell

Mission Overview

Dr. Kevin Boswell

Dr. Kevin Boswell, an assistant professor of biology, is leading this mission. His lab will use low frequency sound to attract sharks around Aquarius. HD remote video combined with multi-beam imaging sonar will be used to quantify how fish behavior changes in the presence and absence of sharks. At the same time, grazing intensity by herbivores will be measured to understand the impacts on the benthic community.

 

 

 

Dr. Michael HeithausDr. Michael Heithaus, Dean of the College of Arts, Sciences & Education & Global FinPrint’s co-lead principal investigator, is co-leading this mission. His lab will set BRUVs to provide data on fish behavior in the presence & absence of sharks. Setting the BRUVs is also part of Global FinPrint, which attempts to assess the presence of sharks & rays on coral reefs all over the world, understand the factors affecting their distribution, and inform conservation actions for threatened species.

 

 

 

TUS

 

In an effort to inspire the next generation of ocean enthusiasts and engage the public using innovative research technologies, a FIU student teacher, Carlos Calle, will take part of this mission via the Teacher-Under-the -Sea program. This work would not be possible without the help of our amazing Aquarius Reef Base staff and the support of the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation.

 

 

Join the adventure live online

Aquarius Reef Base Twitter #Angellsharks

SEAS Twitter #sharksFIU

Global FinPrint Twitter #count2save

Meet the Team

Alain Duran – Science Team Lead

  • Ph.D. candidate at FIU.
  • Studies the effect of biotic and abiotic drivers of herbivorous fish-algae interactions and their impacts on coral reef dynamics and conservation.
  • Works on the dynamics of coral reef fish, particularly herbivores.

Benjamin Binder - Scientist

  • Graduate student at FIU.
  • Focuses on the community wide effect of fish spawning aggregations (FSA) in the South Florida region and the spatiotemporal patterns of FSA formation.
  • Tools of his trade include various fisheries sonars, which will be used extensively during the mission. 

Frances Farabaugh - Scientist

  • Ph.D. student in the Heithaus Lab at FIU and is involved with the Global FinPrint project.
  • Focuses on behavioral ecology of marine predators.
  • Hopes to elucidate the role sharks play in structuring reef communities by investigating predation risk effects and the functional redundancy of top predators. 

Roy Bartnick - Science Translation Specialist, Teacher-Under-the-Sea Program

  • Currently working on his Ph.D. dissertation in Educational Leadership at Capella University, Minneapolis, MN.
  • Goal is to seamlessly blend STEM across the curriculum at the elementary school levels in hopes of fostering a love of learning while providing students the ability and opportunity to apply their knowledge to real world applications on a global community level.
  • Will mentor the FIU student teacher, Carlos Calle, and lead many of the educational programs conducted aboard Aquarius through collaboration with Skype in the Classroom.

 

Carlos Calle – Science Translation Specialist, Teacher-Under-the-Sea Program

  • Studies elementary education at FIU and is completing his internship at Norman S. Edelcup K-8 Center in Sunny Isles, Florida.
  • Has a special interest in conducting experimental research in natural sciences and will work hand-in-hand with the science team.
  • Will lead many of the educational programs conducted aboard Aquarius through collaboration with Skype in the Classroom. 

Cathy Guinovart – Aquarius Reef Base Education and Outreach Coordinator

  • Senior pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Sustainability and the Environment.
  • Started a student-run organization at FIU called “Age of Aquarius”, which is dedicated to teaching the community about the value of Aquarius and the oceans as a whole. 
  • Schedules all virtual field trips for this mission and facilitates shore base live links with Carlos Calle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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