FPSR logo 150pxResearch and Education

The shark section of the Florida Museum of Natural History's Ichthyology site provides a rich source of information on sharks and rays. The site covers a wide array of topics including biology and ecology, conservation and fishery management, shark attacks, and news. Biological species profiles, an interactive shark identification guide, and educational puzzles and games are among items that can be accessed on the web site. This informational web site allows interested viewers to come away with a more balanced view of elasmobranchs and measures needed to insure their management and survival.

FPSR biological research initiatives concerning sharks, skates and rays are numerous and diverse, ranging from studies on relative abundance and distribution, to systematics and evolutionary relationships. Life history studies on elasmobranchs are a major focus of research at the FPSR, where scientists are investigating age, growth, and reproduction of numerous species. Research projects also include basic and applied studies on the biology, ecology, and behavior of coastal and pelagic elasmobranchs. Opportunities are available for graduate and undergraduate students to become involved in ongoing shark research projects.

Workshops

FPSR PSA classProject Shark Awareness educator workshops

Besides the many resources available in our Discover Fishes and Sharks section, the FPSR, in collaboration with Florida Sea Grant, has also instituted the program Project Shark Awareness. Project Shark Awareness is an innovative outreach program created to educate the public about the myths and realities of shark biology, behavior, and conservation. The targeted audience consists primarily of students at middle schools, high schools, youth organizations, and environmental centers.

Sawfish In Peril educator workshops

Sawfish in Peril was a classroom-based education initiative designed and implemented in a similar manner to Project Shark Awareness. Very little is known about sawfishes, which historically were very abundant in the tropics. Today, the U.S. distribution of the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) is primarily restricted to the waters off the coast of southwest Florida. Although it is difficult to estimate the exact numbers of sawfish remaining in U.S. waters, it is likely that the population has declined at least 95% over the past century. As a result, the smalltooth sawfish has recently been listed for protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The largetooth sawfish (Pristis perotteti), once found in low numbers in waters ranging from Texas to Florida, likely has been extirpated from U.S. waters. Sawfish In Peril is intended to better inform the public concerning the plight and protection of sawfishes native to U.S. coastal waters, as well as the fate of sawfishes in general, which as a group are globally threatened. Workshops were held for Florida educators dependent upon external funding availability. 

Outreach

In addition to the above programs, we are currently distributing brochures on smalltooth sawfish detailing the conservation status as well as how to handle and release an accidentally captured sawfish. We will continue to distribute these brochures through marinas and tackle shops along the southwest coast of Florida as well as through educators in schools throughout the state. Also, sawfish signage is continuing to be posted in cooperation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at appropriate marinas and boat launches in southwest Florida.

Presentations

Projects & Research