Category Archives: Sharks

Shark Expedition Update #3

CEI Shark Intern Ian B. handling a juvenile lemon shark.
CEI Shark Intern Ian B. handling a juvenile lemon shark.

On May 25th, researchers from Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center Panama City Lab, along with CEI Shark intern Ian Bouyoucos, departed from Nassau via seaplane to Andros. They spent the next three days at the Flamingo Cay Rod and Gun Club exploring the west side of Andros. The focus of this leg of the expedition is to 1) take genetic samples from lemon and bonnethead sharks, and 2) to find the critically endangered smalltooth sawfish (a cartilaginous fish, closely related to stingrays).

Smalltooth sawfish populations have declined by over 90% in no small part due to their susceptibility to accidental capture in gill nets. Andros is one of the few places outside of the U.S. where smalltooth sawfish are found. NOAA researchers plan on outfitting these sawfish with archival satellite tags to learn more about their movement patterns.

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Parents Weekend Spring 2013

This past weekend, the CEI and Island School campus had many visitors eager to hear about CEI research- Island School parents! Parents attended presentations given by IS students on current research projects that the students have been working on since they arrived in March. Research presentations discussed during the event included:

  • The abundance and distribution of sea turtles in Half Sound
  • Effects of longline capture on shark physiology
  • Competitive interactions between lobsters and lionfish
  • Identifying ideal nursery habitat for juvenile queen conch
  • Effects of climate change on bonefish and other mangrove species
  • The relationship between herbivore abundance on patch reefs and proximity to mangroves
  • Assessing settlement of post-larval lionfish
Parents Weekend Spring 2013
SP’13 IS students posing for a group picture after research presentations.

Each presentation was followed by a question and answer session, where students demonstrated their extensive knowledge on the background and applications of their study. Parents also got the opportunity to learn about all of the research happening at CEI, and to meet with research advisors.

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Shark Expedition Update #2

Shark on the line On May 19th we made the crossing home to Eleuthera after a two week journey to Cat Island. We successfully deployed over 20 satellite tags from Microwave Telemetry on oceanic whitetips, with a number of confirmed pregnancies and confirmed non-pregnant females caught and tested with an ultrasound from UNF’s Brenda Anderson. Hopefully with this new data we can pinpoint critical habitats for oceanic whitetip reproduction.

With the first leg of the expedition complete, we are all very excited to move on to the next phase of the research cruise. The first stop is Nassau, where an outreach event with our P1080242(1)partners at BREEF and Stony Brook University are hosting marine biology students around the city for shark education lectures and even a trip to see Caribbean reef sharks. Hopefully we can generate awareness in the Bahamas and let people know how incredibly valuable the new shark sanctuary can be for the region. Continue reading

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Oceanic Whitetip Shark Expedition

As a continuation of two years of research on the elusive, critically endangered oceanic whitetip, we made the crossing to the southern tip of Cat Island on Tuesday, May 7th with the goal of learning more about this understudied, and historically abundant, pelagic shark. We have been at Cat oceanicIsland for less than a week and have been extremely successful. With 17 satellite tags on oceanic whitetips and countless in-water experiences, the first leg of the trip has gone smoothly. We have over a week left here and less than ten tags to deploy, making our main purpose to put out sat tags on males and recaptures, as well as conduct ultrasounds on all females to determine reproductive state. We have also caught, tagged, and taken biometrics on a blue shark and a small but curious tiger shark while out in the blue water. To learn more, check out the link to our collaborator’s blog at the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Science :

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Island School students present introductions to their research projects

This past week, the SP13 Island School students presented Project Introduction presentations to their peers, staff, faculty, and the many visitors on campus. These presentations gave the students a chance to stand up in front of a crowd, and display their knowledge of the background, purpose, and methodology of their specific research projects.

Research projects this year include 1) lionfish and lobster competition, 2) shark physiology after longline capture, 3) effects of climate change on bonefish swimming capacity, 4) effects of decreasing pH on mangrove fish, 5) identifying juvenile queen conch nurseries, 6) green sea turtle habitat use, 7) the settlement of juvenile lionfish, and 8) coral vs. algae cover on patch reefs. These projects are led by CEI researchers, and the students have the chance to work closely with with researchers for the duration of their Island School research class. The class culminates with a Research Symposium, where the students present a scientific poster on the findings of their projects. Continue reading

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Shark Program at CEI: Spring Research Update

Taking into account the local, regional, and global threats to sharks, the Shark Research and Conservation Program was developed to increase the capacity of basic and applied shark research in The Bahamas. Our research this spring is focused on the stress physiology of elasmobranchs. We are investigating the physiological and behavioral stress response of sharks to longline capture, as well as quantifying the effects of stress on the immune system of yellow stingrays.

Additionally, we are conducting studies pertaining to the basic spatial and temporal patterns of Caribbean reef sharks and oceanic whitetips, an important first step toward addressing the conservation needs of species that likely transcend many different coastal habitats and political boundaries. Continue reading

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CEI has an outreach booth at the Rock Sound Homecoming!

CEI attended the 2013 Rock Sound Homecoming as part of their community outreach, and engaged the local community members in a conversation about marine conservation.

The CEI booth was packed with information on a range of issues including plastics awareness, conch conservation, sharks, climate change, bonefish best handling practices, aquaponics, and aquaculture info. We also had free giveaways! The fried lionfish and tilapia samples were a big hit, especially with all the local kids! The aquaculture mini system and free lettuce was also very popular. The day in Rock Sound was great fun – thank-you to all the CEI staff and interns who help run the booth. Look forward to the next homecoming!


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CEI/Island School Bridge to Shark Research in South Africa

On the Maxey’s recent trip to South Africa, Chris Maxey had the opportunity to visit the Save our Seas Shark Research Centre and met with Michael C. Scholl, CEO of Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF)Michael is interested in expanding the educational outreach program at the Shark Centre and is sending two educators to join The Island School Teacher Conference this summer to help enhance the experiential elements of the new curriculum. Dr. Edd Brooks has been working with SOSF and the Shark Centre since 2006 and Chris Maxey’s son Brocq started working as an intern at the Shark Centre when he moved to Cape Town in 2009. Other Island School students have also participated in the research internship program.

There will be internship opportunities available both at the Shark Centre and also through an expeditionary organization, Shark Explorer, where Brocq Maxey currently works as a dive master and underwater photographer.

Picture caption: Chris and Brocq Maxey with Dr. Michael Scholl at the Centre

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Scientists from CEI head to Bahamas National Natural History Conference in Nassau, Update #1

On Tuesday, March 5th, 4 scientists from the Cape Eleuthera Institute made the trip to Nassau for the first Bahamas National Natural History Conference, co-hosted by the Bahamas National Trust and the College of Bahamas. On this first day of the conference, the audience got to hear from Dr. Jocelyn Curtis-Quick, manager of the Lionfish Research and Education Program, discussing the positive impact of removing lionfish from Bahamian reefs. Presenting data collected by Dr. Stephanie Green from Simon Fraser University, Dr. Curtis-Quick showed the audience a model for determining the effects of lionfish on native fish production, and posed the idea that although total eradication of lionfish is unlikey, partial removals (from targeted removals and derbies) can be an effective management strategy.

Later in the day, Dr. Edd Brooks, manager of the Shark Ecology and Conservation Program, spoke about his six years of research on the Caribbean Reef shark in the Bahamas, an ecologically important apex predator. Dr. Brooks showed interesting sex differences in depth that the sharks inhabit, based on data he obtained from satellite tags that tracked the shark’s movements over a period of 8 months.Both talks were well attended, and were a great way to start off the conference. Aaron Shultz, Director of CEI, and Claire Thomas, who studies queen conch ecology, will present later in the week. Thanks for representing CEI!

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