Shoals Marine Laboratory Shark Biology & Conservation Field Course

Research Vessel John M. Kingsbury
Appledore Island, Maine
July 11-25, 2022


From July 11th to July 25th, The International SeaKeepers Society's Program Associate and Shoals Marine Laboratory (SML) Adjunct Faculty, Maggie Winchester, returned to SML to teach an undergraduate field course on Shark Biology and Conservation. Over the two week course, students learned about shark biology, ecology, and physiology through lectures, research projects, and laboratory activities. The 15 undergraduate students primarily came to the island from Cornell University and the University of New Hampshire, with many joining from other universities around the country.

The class learned about shark anatomy through dissections of an abundant local shark species, the spiny dogfish, and used preserved specimens to test their identification skills and better understand elasmobranch phylogeny. The students also discussed potential career paths in the field of shark research, and learned about fishing and tagging sharks for research during hands-on field excursions. The class was lucky to observe and assist with tagging and sampling of two beautiful sharks, one blue shark and one juvenile mako shark, and some students even used blood samples from the animals to determine their stres levels, which were ultimately low. Both sharks were released in healthy condition, and some extremely lucky students were even able to observe a white shark swimming near the boat. The students were grateful for the experience, and several expressed strong interest in persuing a career in research or ocean conservation.

Outing Goal

The goal of this field course is to give college students hads on experience with field methods and research in marine science. While this course is focused on sharks, the students are exposed to a wide variety of career tracks and job possibilities within the field of marine science. In many cases, students that take this course continue in a career relating to ocean conservation, whether it be research, education, or policy work.

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