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May 2022 Update

Words by Baylie Fadool
Photos by Baylie Fadool and Jasmine Nyce

May 31, 2022

This month was full of visitors with two university courses each coming for a week at the Shark Lab. Read below to find out more about these courses and some other happenings from the month!

University Courses

Coastal Carolina University’s Shark Biology Course

Coastal Carolina University (CCU) is located in Conway, South Carolina. Dr. Dan Abel, a professor of marine science from the university, has been bringing students to the Shark Lab for a week in May for over 20 years and leads the Shark Biology course with Dr. Dean Grubbs from Florida State University. The week at the Shark Lab is the first week of their 3-week long May-mester summer course, where they receive most of the lectures and start learning the scientific names of over 50 elasmobranch species. After spending time at the Shark Lab, they go back to CCU and attend a few research cruises with Dr. Abel that involve doing longline surveys in the area and learning how to handle a shark. We had a great week with them receiving lectures from Dr. Grubbs and Dr. Abel and going out to do a few field activities, such as the iconic reef shark dive and feeding baby lemon sharks at Aya’s Spot. While Dr. Abel and Dr. Grubbs were here, Baylie Fadool did an interview with them over Instagram during her segment called Shark Hour.

Eckerd College

We were so excited to welcome back Dr. William Szelistowski for his second course this year. He brought a group of students earlier this year in March and brought down another group this month. This very enthusiastic group closed out our month full of activity! Throughout the week, the students received presentations from our President Matt Smukall and other crew members about the history of our research at the lab. Although they received some lectures, they spent most of the time out in the field with us, as the class is designed to get them out of the classroom and immersed in the environment that they are studying. They got to see pretty much everything that the island has to offer, even including the Bimini Road! Eckerd College will be back for another course in August.

Ongoing Lab Renovations

The lab has been undergoing renovations since the spring of 2020. Since this time, it has seen a complete transformation of the inside, the installation of a new roof, the additions of fuel and desalination sheds, and a new dock and porch. During this month, the construction in the room we call the “lab” that is used for group activities and presentations got finished walls and a painted ceiling, making the room essentially complete minus a few small details. Because of our location and the way we operate, we do all of our own construction and have to rely on when materials can be shipped in order to complete projects. It is another example of the many hats we have to wear while working at a field station! One day, we may be leading a field activity and driving the boats, where the next, we may have our tools belts on installing a new roof. Check out the pictures below of the lab previously and what it looks like now!



FACT Network Meeting

We had some members from our crew attend the FACT Network Meeting in Melbourne, Florida, at the Brevard Zoo from May 17th-19th. The FACT Network connects marine scientists using acoustic telemetry and other tagging technology to better understand and conserve important marine fish and sea turtle species. They work to encourage new student projects with data sharing and partnerships that help inform policy and coastal management decisions. Jasmine Nyce, station manager and Master’s student, and Kylie Bostick, station assistant and research assistant, attended the meeting to learn and help inform their future projects and work.

We had a busy month and are looking forward to June as we are reopening to the public and have a lot of exciting events planned as we move into the summer!

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