From time to time, the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation offers a non-technical course in the general biology of sharks. The course features daily field trips, presentations and personal encounters with several species of actively feeding, free-swimming sharks. Guests will also receive daily lectures from experts actively working in the field of shark research, including Dr. Dean Grubbs, Associate Director of Research at the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory.
The entire 6-day course is held at the Bimini Biological Field Station (Shark Lab), a relatively isolated research facility on the island of South Bimini, Bahamas, 46 miles across the Gulf Stream from Miami, Florida. Daily field trips are provided to immerse you in the rich surrounding of flora and fauna of Bimini’s diverse and pristine habitats that support the sharks you will encounter.
From mangroves forests to seagrass meadows and shallow sandy flats to rocky shores fringed with coral reefs, you will gain insight into the role of sharks in these unique ecosystems. Students learn how sharks are captured, tagged and released for scientific research, observe a dozen Caribbean reef sharks while they actively compete for food, watch a great hammerheads glide over the sand in search of prey, and more. Classroom lectures and presentations provide for engaging discussions on the biology and ecology of sharks, as well as the research conducted at the Shark Lab over the past 31 years.
This course is open to anyone (16+) with an interest in sharks and marine biology. We aim to make the course hands on and comprehensive; thus, a background in marine biology is not required.
Students should be able to swim and stay in the water for 45 minutes, as well as use snorkel gear and understand English. Under 18's must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
This course is taught by Dr Dean Grubbs - a fish ecologist based at the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Lab. After completing his studies at the University of Miami, a PhD through the College of William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and a post-doctoral stint at the University of Hawaii. He now leads a very active lab of bright graduate and undergraduate students at FSU and works with collaborators worldwide on a number of different projects.
Dr. Dean Grubbs' current research focus is geared towards providing answers needed for the sustainable management and conservation of coastal and deep-water sharks and rays. After studying sharks and rays for more than 25 years and having tagged and released more than 10,000 sharks from over 40 species, he is the perfect leader for this course.
COURSE COST & WHAT'S INCLUDED
The price for this all-inclusive course is $2,850.
The Shark Lab is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and is run on a shoestring budget. The prices we advertise are calculated to cover entirety of the trip, including the costs of flights between Fort Lauderdale and Bimini, accommodation, meals, fuel, boat use and personnel, as well as a donation which contributes directly to our research. You will also receive a copy of our Shark Doc, Shark Lab book which gives a detailed history of the Shark Lab’s founder Doc Gruber.
All donations to the station are tax deductible and we can provide receipts on request.
We provide round trip charter flights from Fort Lauderdale (Tropic Ocean Airways at Sheltair) to Bimini International Airport (BIM). We meet your flight (if you fly on our charter) and provide ground transport to and from the airport in Bimini. The station is air-conditioned, and we prepare the best meals we can! While we are able to accomodate vegetarian meals, unfortunately we are unable to provide vegan meals.
Field trips, activities, and lectures by world renowned shark scientist, Dr. Dean Grubbs, as well as a copy of book Shark Doc, Shark Lab are all part of the tuition, and photos will be available on request for a small, additional fee.
The course is open to a maximum of 16 students and will run if at least 12 register. A non-refundable down payment of US$500 is required within 45 days of acceptance to reserve your place. Acceptance is on a first come, first served basis so your deposit will assure a place on the course.
The station has recently undergone a full renovation. Living conditions are close: four persons sleep in each room on a pair of bunk beds. Bedding and linens are provided. Hearty meals are prepared in a large kitchen and there are two bathrooms with showers to serve the group. The station is comfortable, air conditioned and electric power is mostly reliable.
WHAT TO BRING
What students need to bring:
1. Proof of citizenship: passport required for all visitors; Visa waiver or USA tourist visa required to enter the Bahamas for most non-US citizens (check here if unsure).
2. Soft suitcase for easy stowing in the aircraft and bedrooms. Maximum 40lbs!!
3. Insect repellent / baby oil (many mosquitoes and sand flies)
4. Sunscreen (Reef safe preferred - see BRANDS page)
5. Hat and polarized sunglasses
6. Foul weather gear: rain pants / jacket
7. Snorkel gear: mask & snorkel, fins (standard length or freedive fins. Short swim/surf fins are not adequate for the conditions), and wet suit (3 - 5mm recommended)
8. At least two bathing suits
9. Beach towel (bath towels are provided)
10. Clothes that can get wet or soiled: T-shirts and shorts, sweat shirts and long pants, warm jacket, sandals or shoes that can get wet
11. Any special foods and medicines
12. Reusable water bottle
13. Dry bag
14. Travel adapter if necessary (Type A&B outlets)
15. Buff/neck gaiter
Environmental hazards: Depending on season students must be prepared for intense sun, rain, wind, cold, heat, constant wetness, sea sickness and biting insects.
Bimini information: There are limited shops or stores on South Bimini but there are more extensive shopping facilities in Alice town on North Bimini. We require travel and health/accident insurance from every participant. There is a small medical clinic in Alice Town, but for any serious condition you will be airlifted back to Miami or Nassau.
*** All medical costs including transportation will be covered by the student's own travel insurance as explained in the appended waiver of liability and agreement***.