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Field and Lab Skills

Shark research field methods: fishing gear

Since 2011, I’ve worked as a research assistant and trip leader with the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program at the University of Miami. Members of the lab are in the field (in the Florida Keys, Everglades, or Bahamas) approximately 50 days a year catching, measuring, sampling, and tagging sharks. We catch between 400 and 600 sharks a year using drumlines, and work from a 61 foot custom made fishing vessel.

Working to restrain a lemon shark in the Everglades prior to measurement and sampling

Working to restrain a lemon shark in the Everglades prior to measurement and sampling

I worked as a field assistant for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources shark survey in the summers of 2009, 2010, and 2011. The SCDNR Survey works primarily off of a small 18 foot skiff, and catches approximately 2,000 sharks a year using longlines and gill nets.

A juvenile sandbar shark in Charleston harbor

A juvenile sandbar shark in Charleston harbor

I taught the Shark Biology course at SeaCamp in the Florida Keys in the summers of 2007 and 2008, teaching high school students about shark biology and conservation and taking them into the field to catch and tag local shark species.

Shark Biology students pose with me and a nurse shark we caught

Shark Biology students pose with me and a nurse shark we caught

I also participated in a “field methods in shark biology” short course at the Bimini Biological field station, and joined a Virginia Institute of Marine Science shark survey cruise.

Holding a baby tiger shark in a holding pen at Bimini

Holding a baby tiger shark in a holding pen at Bimini

Shark research field methods: measuring, sampling, and tagging

From my experience working with two shark surveys and participating in two more, I have a great deal of experience with common methods to “work up” captured sharks, including measurements (pre-caudal length, fork length, and stretch total length), tagging (type-M dart tags, roto-tags, and various models of satellite tag), taking fin clips, taking muscle biopsy samples, and drawing small volumes of blood.

Helping to attach a satellite tag to a 3 meter tiger shark in the Bahamas

Helping to attach a satellite tag to a 3 meter tiger shark in the Bahamas

Boating experience

I grew up around boats at my family’s vacation home in the Adirondacks, and have experience performing scientific research on boats of all sizes, including the vessels mentioned above, 26 foot “flat tops” pontoon boats (at SeaCamp), and a 130 foot Brigantine-rig sailboat (with the SEA Education Association). I hold a current South Carolina boater’s license, and have passed the SeaCamp captain’s exam (based on the Coast Guard small craft captain’s license exam). I have approximately 250 days at sea.

Lifeguarding off the bow of a SeaCamp flattop

Lifeguarding off the bow of a SeaCamp flattop

SCUBA Experience

I hold NAUI Master SCUBA Diver, Rescue Diver, and Assistant Instructor certifications. I have over 200 dives from around the world, including wreck dives, deep dives, drift dives, and night dives. I also have a NAUI Skin Diver Instructor certification.

Turtle

Laboratory skills

I have a great deal of experience with stable isotope analysis processing techniques, including lipid removal, urea removal (specific to shark muscle tissue), dessication, homogenizing, massing samples, and spectrometer use. I am also familiar with basic genetics methods (PCR) and basic blood analysis techniques (hematrocrit analysis, isolating plasma using a centrifuge).

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