News

Grant provides financial support to promote marine conservation

A grant from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) will provide financial aid for a project aimed at conserving endangered oceanic sharks, an undertaking of the R.J. Dunlap (RJD) Marine Conservation Program at The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

“It is a big grant, so it attracts a lot of attention,” said Austin Gallagher, a co-principal investigator of the study. “We feel really lucky to be recognized.”

The RJD program was one of nearly 100 projects worldwide to be awarded a grant by the DWCF. The fund awarded more than $2 million to various conservation programs that benefit habitats and species.

The RJD team’s study, which is aimed at protecting oceanic white tip sharks, will evaluate how overfishing may put the species at risk and identify mating and feeding areas.

“The hammerheads have declined over 80 percent in the last 15 years,” said Neil Hammerschlag, UM assistant research professor and director of the RJD Program. “Oceanic white tip sharks were one of the most abundant on the planet and have now declined over 99 percent.”

The study, which Hammerschlag said will begin next year, will use Smart Position or Temperature Transmitting (“SPOT”) satellite tags to track the sharks. The devices will recognize when a shark surfaces and detect its position.

To receive the grant, the team had to demonstrate its experience in the field.

“Neil and myself have authored a lot of scientific papers on this topic, and we have been putting satellite tags on different species,” Gallagher said. “We have tagged 70 sharks and five different species in the last two years.”

The team plans to determine the hot spots where the sharks feed and mate.

“We are using noninvasive tools to look at their blood hormones to determine areas where they might be reproducing,” Hammerschlag said.

According to Gallagher, the conservation of an endangered species depends on the protection of its female members.

“I am most interested with reproduction, personally, but we have seen so far that sharks are pretty damn picky about where they mate,” Gallagher said. “Not a lot is known … we want to see if a pattern emerges.”

Each week, the team uploads the shark’s location to a website allowing individuals to follow its movement. This information is available to students and local and international governments to aid in planning conservation strategies.

“It is important to show that you don’t want to just track the sharks but that you want to test a scientific hypothesis,” Gallagher said.

November 9, 2011

Reporters

Jackie Salo


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

A six-pack of Canes notes on a Thursday: • Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has an interesting theor ...

Juwan Dowels vividly remembers his first winter on the Syracuse University campus. Like the other 11 ...

The University of Miami football team has another player with a season-ending injury — and this one ...

University of Miami men’s basketball coach Jim Larrañaga received a grand jury subpoena for his phon ...

Get ready for an avalanche of University of Miami defensive backs and linemen descending on the Hard ...

Univeristy of Miami’s Wynwood Art Gallery holds its annual faculty exhibition featuring thought-prov ...

From a game simulating how whales navigate to a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, the U showcased some of ...

A new mobile game called Blues and Reds, now available worldwide, aims to help researchers study int ...

A major Lancet Commission report, a three-year project headed by UM’s Professor Felicia Knaul and co ...

With a $6.8 million NIH grant, the UM School of Nursing and Health Studies and FIU Robert Stempel Co ...

Here are three matchups to watch Saturday as the Hurricanes take on the Syracuse Orange at Hard Rock ...

The University of Miami men's basketball team will begin the season as No. 12 in the USA TODAY ...

As a Hurricane Club member, you are invited to participate in the 25th Annual University of Miami Ha ...

The University of Miami volleyball team returns home this weekend to host Atlantic Coast Conference ...

The Hurricanes will look to slow down an inspired Syracuse team at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday. ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.