Heartbreaking and Heartwarming Tales of Social Sharks

ResearchBlogging.orgOne of the cooler trends in marine science has been the revelation that advanced social and learning behavior are pretty widespread among marine animals, and not just the domain of marine mammals.  Stereotypically, whales and dolphins are considered the big-brained residents of the ocean, able to outsmart everything else with their adorable group behavior.  The truth is more complex and therefore a lot more interesting: several marine taxa from bony fish to cephalopods have proven quite smart, and some marine mammals are not so smart (the North Atlantic right whale was considered the “right” whale to hunt, and continues to be critically endangered, because they are spectacularly dumb).  Fortunately for my own particular bias, sharks are following this trend.  A couple newer papers show that not only are sharks highly social, but their social behavior can be just as heartbreaking and heartwarming as that of any charismatic megafauna.

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Summer of the Shark: Best Red Drum Survey Ever

In fisheries and marine science you have days that, by any objective standard, should be an amazing day in the field.  You get a ton of samples, the gear (mostly) works as planned, you find out some interesting stuff, and overall have a lot of fun.  The problem is, none of that has anything to do with your target species, and they continue to evade your every effort to find them.  This happened to me when we packed the longline, gillnet, and a few rods to search for sharks around Cedar Island.

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Posted in cownose rays, fishing, gill nets, grad school, North Carolina, sharks, Summer of the Shark, wtf | Leave a comment

U.S. Atlantic Spiny Dogfish: MSC Certified

This logo will now be seen on spiny dogfish products.

After nearly two years of assessments and public comment, the U.S. Atlantic spiny dogfish fishery has officially been certified as Sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.  This makes it the second shark or ray fishery ever to get MSC certification, and is the first multi-gear, large-scale fishery to do so (a low-quota hook and line fishery for Pacific spiny dogfish was certified first).  I’ll be revisiting this in more detail as a I get a chance to read the full document, but most of my concerns and questions have been raised in previous posts.  Here’s a timeline of MSC certification coverage on this blog so far:

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Posted in conservation, fisheries management, milestone, MSC, spiny dogfish | 4 Comments

Shark Week 2012 in Review

Image from discovery.com

Before I duck into my annual review of Shark Week, I have a confession to make: I didn’t manage to see all of Shark Week this year.  In my defense, it was because I was participating in an entirely different kind of Shark Week in Vancouver, and between that and some airline-related delays, I was only able to catch this year’s offerings while they were being rerun at the end of the week.  Here are my thoughts on what I did see of Shark Week 2012.

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Posted in conservation, dorkiness, ecology, milestone, sharks | 3 Comments

AES 2012 Aftersharks

Now that I’ve gotten your attention with that cringeworthy pun in the title, I’d like to put up a quick post on my overall thoughts on AES 2012 and the host city.  This took a couple days due to a cancelled flight in Philadelphia and the immediate need to get caught back up with work.  I’ll have a whole slew of tourist shots from Vancouver up as well, so you can skip my musing and look at the pretty pictures if that’s your thing.

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Posted in AES, conference, dorkiness, ecology, sharks, spiny dogfish, whales | 2 Comments

AES 2012: Day 4 Highlights

The last day of AES talks wrapped up today.  It’s always a little melancholy to see this conference end, but one must get back to real life sometime.  Here are the highlights from Day 4.

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Posted in AES, conservation, ecology, fisheries management, North Carolina, sharks, spiny dogfish, striped bass | Leave a comment

AES 2012: Day 3 Highlights

Lots of cool talks today as this conference continues to be very good at keeping me busy.  Check below the jump for the rundown on what I found interesting.

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Posted in AES, conference, conservation, dorkiness, gut contents, sharks, spiny dogfish, weird gross and awesome | 1 Comment

AES 2012: Day 2 Highlights

What a busy day.  I’ve only got a little bit of time to get this up before I have to head over to the poster session, and I saw a lot of very good talks today.  Keep following #AES2012 on Twitter to keep up with stuff as it’s happening, and keep checking back here for daily recaps.  Here’s what piqued my interest today.

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Posted in AES, conference, conservation, cownose rays, ecology, fisheries management, gut contents, North Carolina, sharks, spiny dogfish | Leave a comment

AES 2012: Day 1 Highlights

AES has officially begun!  The first day of the World Congress of Herpetology (referred to as “AES” from here on out, because that’s the part I care about, no disrespect to the scalies) kicked off with free breakfast, which was appropriately mobbed by the attendees.  I caught up with some of the shark people, checked out a nearby sushi place that had some of the best miso soup I’ve ever had, and then the shark talks began.  Below the jump are my personal highlights of the day, and is by no means a comprehensive list.  For more AES coverage by me and a small army of other shark nerds, check out the Twitter hashtag #AES2012.

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Posted in AES, conference, dorkiness, ecology, methods, sharks | 2 Comments

White Sharks Now Interacting With People at Cape Cod

I suppose it was only a matter of time.  I’ve waited until more information was available before writing anything about this, but it looks like the first confirmed Massachusetts white shark attack since 1936 has occurred at Ballston Beach on Cape Cod.  The victim, Christopher Myers, was swimming out past the breakers with his son when a dark dorsal fin was spotted near him and a shark seized his leg.  Fortunately, Chris’ injuries were relatively minor and he is apparently in good health and spirits.  Now that this has happened, what’s next for New England’s white sharks and the swimmers that share the water?

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