Ten Florida teachers boarded R/V ANGARI for the Coastal Ocean Explorers: Sharks Summer 2022 Teacher Workshop in partnership with Florida International University scientists.
July 23, 2022
West Palm Beach, FL
Laura García Barcia
All sharks were fished for, caught, studied and released for research purposes under Florida permits held by Florida International University scientists.
ANGARI Foundation teamed up with Florida International University (FIU) researchers from the College of Arts, Sciences & Education to invite elementary, middle and high school teachers from across the state of Florida to participate in our Summer 2022 Coastal Ocean Explorers: Sharks Teacher Workshop. This three-day event featured onshore programming focused on the importance of sharks in marine ecosystems and exploration of the methods scientists employ to study them, including educational activities and lessons developed to help teachers share the concepts with their students. The workshop culminated with a shark research expedition offshore Palm Beach County onboard R/V ANGARI. The teachers worked side-by-side with the FIU scientists to prepare, deploy and recover specialized shark research fishing gear, known as drumlines, which are designed to reduce stress on the animals.
During this expedition, two great hammerhead sharks were caught and released in good condition, including the largest shark ever worked up from R/V ANGARI with FIU scientists to date, a 12.5 foot (380 cm pre-caudal length) female! Chief Scientist Erin Spencer deployed a biologger as part of her research exploring the movement and behavior of great hammerheads via the collection of data on their speed, acceleration and position in the water. These noninvasive biologger tags are designed to release from the shark’s dorsal fin after 24 hours, at which time they float to the surface where they can be retrieved using satellite and VHF signals. The biologger deployed during this expedition was successfully recovered the following day with the assistance of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Law Enforcement Division officers Reinhardt and Landers.
The Coastal Ocean Explorers: Sharks Summer 2022 Teacher Workshop was hosted and sponsored by ANGARI Foundation. In-kind contributions from Florida International University, Quest Workspaces, The Ben West Palm and Hilton Garden Inn helped make this program possible.
Laura García Barcia is a Ph.D. candidate in the Predator Ecology & Conservation Lab at FIU. She is an environmental biologist particularly interested in marine wildlife conservation. Her research focuses on two main topics: the shark fin trade and the impacts of heavy metal pollution on coastal shark species. Through the use of genetics and toxicology, she explores fascinating questions, including the identification of where shark fins sold in Hong Kong come from, whether shark fin soup is a safe product to consume for humans, or at what life stage sharks are more vulnerable to pollutants found in our waters. The ultimate goal of Laura’s research is to inform conservation measures that help improve the status of shark populations. Working towards this same goal, Laura is passionate about education and serves as the lead scientist and mentor for ANGARI’s Coastal Ocean Explorers: Sharks at-sea education program aboard R/V ANGARI.
Erin Spencer is a science writer, marine ecologist and Ph.D. candidate in Biology at FIU. Her research uses biologgers, or animal-mounted data collecting devices, to record acceleration, speed, depth, etc. that helps us understand great hammerhead shark energy needs and movement patterns. Prior to working in Florida, she received a M.S. in Ecology from the UNC – Chapel Hill where she studied red snapper fishery management and seafood mislabeling, and a B.S. in Ecology from the College of William and Mary where she studied invasive lionfish management. She is a three-time National Geographic Explorer grantee and has given talks to groups of all ages through National Geographic, the World Bank, TEDx, and schools. Erin is an avid writer and published a children’s book called The World of Coral Reefs. She is also passionate about science education and serves as a lead scientist for ANGARI’s Coastal Ocean Explorers: Sharks program.