May 31, 2023
We welcomed the spring interns to Bimini during this month, and they had the opportunity to network and help with our educational programs. It was a successful month with many visitors, outlined all below!
University Course Visits
Our first university course visit of the month was from Coastal Carolina University (CCU). CCU has been bringing course students to the lab since 1996, with the exception of 2 years due to COVID. This course is usually co-led by Dr. Dan Abel and Dr. Dean Grubbs. The course had a different format this year, being offered as an internship instead of a course. This opened up the course to students outside of Dr. Abel’s class, giving them more of an introduction to shark biology. The students received presentations from Dr. Grubbs while in Bimini and then went back to CCU to be instructed by Dr. Abel or enroll in his course. Intern, Shae Schreckengost, received her Masters from CCU, so it was a great experience for her to connect with the students and have them learn from her.
Eckerd College also paid us a visit later in the month. They have 3 instructors that now bring students over throughout the year. Dr. William Szelistowski (Ski), who started the Eckerd Course, led the course this month. Ski brings the students to Bimini for their lab component of his shark biology course which allows them to receive instruction from the Shark Lab crew during the week.
Board of Directors Visit
At the beginning of the month, we were visited by the Board of Directors of the Shark Lab. They come at least once a year to visit and discuss amongst themselves in-person instead of virtually. Many of them were granted an opportunity from Doc Gruber, Shark Lab Founder, to receive their start at the Lab. Dr. Steve Kessel is the Chairperson of the Shark Lab and is the Director of Marine Research at the Shedd Aquarium. He conducted his PhD field work at the Shark Lab and did this alongside Dr. Bryan Franks, who is the Vice Chairperson of the Shark Lab and is a professor of marine science at Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida. Dr. Kevin Feldheim, Secretary of the Shark Lab, manages the Pritzker Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Evolution at the Chicago Field Museum. For years, Dr. Feldheim has run the genetics samples for the Shark Lab as part of an ongoing project on lemon shark mating systems and breeding behavior. Dr. Dean Grubbs has come to Bimini for years, even helping Dr. Gruber set up our field station. He currently works as the associate director of research at Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory. This month, we all got to meet a new board member, Melissa Drake (Licky)! Licky was the first manager of the Shark Lab and was in Bimini for 8 years. We took them out on the water to see lemon sharks at some of their past field sites. Other board members that were not able to join us in Bimini were Aya Gruber, one of Dr. Gruber’s daughter and Professor of Law at the University of Colorado, and Michael Scholl who is the Director of the University of Liège's Aquarium and Natural History Museum and Chair of Communication for the IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group.