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Expedition 26: FIU Shark Education – Wellington Landings Middle School

Students from the Marine Conservation Club at Wellington Landings Middle School spent the day onboard R/V ANGARI assisting Florida International University (FIU) researchers with shark research and learning about marine science through hands-on activities.

Marine Conservation Students



June 2, 2019


West Palm Beach, FL


Science Team

Gina Clementi
Laura García Barcia
Kirk Gastrich
Nick Ogle
Jessica Quinlan

All sharks were fished for, caught, studied and released for research purposes under Florida permits held by Florida International University scientists.

Florida International University researchers from the Predator Ecology and Conservation Lab, Marine Community and Behavioral Ecology Lab, and College of Arts, Sciences & Education led teacher Mary Jackson and her Marine Conservation Club students from Wellington Landings Middle School on a shark science expedition offshore Palm Beach.  Many of the students are interested in one day pursuing careers in marine science, and were excited to gain first-hand experience working with marine scientists out in the field.  The students participated in all aspects of the research from setting up and deploying baited remote underwater video (BRUV) equipment and drum lines to hand reeling in, measuring, and tagging sharks. Sharks caught and released included: one tiger shark, one bull shark, and two nurse sharks. Students also learned about marine food webs and observed small crustaceans and zooplankton living inside of a sample of floating algae under a stereo microscope.  Throughout the day, the scientists shared their shark knowledge and research experiences, leaving the students with a new appreciation for field biology, shark conservation, and firsthand science-at-sea experiences of their own.


Laura García Barcia studied Environmental Biology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. During her senior year, she transferred to FIU and studied Marine Sciences while volunteering in the Marine Community Ecology Lab. Her research focuses on the conservation biology of sharks, specifically the level of pollutants found in different shark tissues and how this varies with species, trophic level, and region of origin. Laura also takes part in several education and outreach activities at local schools to explain the importance of protecting sharks.


Kirk Gastrich organizes and leads sampling trips for Global FinPrint in the Western Atlantic and Pacific Ocean regions. His work takes him around the globe to study community ecology and predator/prey interactions of marine and estuarine megafauna, including elasmobranchs, marine mammals, and aquatic reptiles. His research also includes studies of muscle biochemistry, physiology and swimming performance of fishes.


Gina Clementi manages the Predator Ecology and Conservation lab at FIU. Her research focuses on how anthropogenic and environmental factors impact elasmobranch abundance and diversity by using baited remote underwater video surveys (BRUVS) to analyze marine predator distributions in tropical and temperate ecosystems. Gina also trains citizen scientists and manages interns analyzing BRUVS for the Global FinPrint project.


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