PhysioShark Science Lab:Outstanding in the Field
Updated: Feb 28
Season #6 of Physioshark in Moorea, French Polynesia, is in full swing with some exciting news!
Meet a few members of the Physioshark Team; Dr. Jodie Rummer and PhD students, Ian Bouyoucos and José Emilio Trujillo Moyano… and of course our beloved Moorea baby shark population!
Dr. Jodie Rummer backs up the team every step of the way with 6 years of local shark nursery experience, matched with 21 years of overall conservation physiology research. This is why her program is called Physioshark!
Dr. Rummer is joined by her partner, Luen Warneke, who maps out potential shark nurseries and takes stellar drone photos and videos. Dr. Rummer also works closely with international sensation, Dr. Serge Planes, and his PhD student, Kim Eustache, as they analyze 10 years of genetic data collected from Moorea sharks.
We choose French Polynesia for our research because it values and protects its sharks all around its islands, and Moorea is an especially good location for studying baby sharks because they are here during certain months every year.
● Gill Net: 50 metres long, catches sharks
● Measuring tape: 3 body length measurements
● Ruler: umbilical scar, eye, fin measurements
● Dry cooler: for dry items
● Wet cooler: to hold the shark during measurements
● Notebook: to keep records, write down data
● Shark weighing bag: holds shark
● Hand scale: for weighing the shark
● PIT tag gun: to insert the tag so we can keep track of individual sharks
● PIT tags: internal tag that can be read via its barcode
● Scissors: for cutting a piece of fin for DNA
● Camera: to take photos with ruler/tape measure
● Pencil & pen: to take records and write down data
● Bite toy: in case of feisty shark
Throughout the week, we spend 3 hours every evening at 11 different potential nursery sites. Here we catch and release sharks to gather data. We've had tremendous success in the field. One night last week, we captured 12 sharks in 1 ½ hours. One night this week, we captured 5 sharks in 6 minutes! The frequency by which the sharks swim into the net confirms that it is baby shark season, for sure!
If needed for experiments, sharks are quickly brought back to the CRIOBE laboratory overlooking Opunohue Bay where the sharks live until the experiments conclude. Ian is investigating how sharks manage their energy when living under different temperature variations, and José is measuring the sharks’ reaction speeds when they are startled by a simulated predator or offered prey fish to hunt. By simulating different conditions in the laboratory, the team can predict how the effects of climate change on the oceans will affect baby shark populations into the future.
Join us for our next post where we feature more of our team, including Victor Huertas (amazing photographer), Isabel Ender, (social media, communication, and education), and Alisa Nemo (global outreach, fundraising, and communications).
Just like the Earth's ecosystems, our team works together to combine all of our strengths to balance work and keep the mission going toward the goal of conservation and education. Healthy baby sharks are key to healthy oceans. We hope this inspires you to get curious about your contribution to Earth too!
Keep up with our day-to-day happenings on Instagram (@physioshark) and Facebook (Physioshark Project) and on our website at www.physioshark.org
With sincere shark smiles,
The Physioshark Team, 2019