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Expedition 82: Shark Handling Workshop

R/V ANGARI welcomed aboard scientists and students from Florida International University (FIU) for a 2-day shark handling workshop in the Lake Worth Lagoon in Palm Beach County, Florida.

Drumline Deployments
Trainee Shark Handlers
Nurse Sharks



April 11 – 12, 2024


West Palm Beach, FL


Science Team

Gina Badlowski
Sara Casareto
Mia D’Orazio
Candace Fields
Elizabeth Hoffman
Emily Jackson
Rovindra Lakenarine
Margaret Malone
Rainer Moy-Huwyler
Gabriela Ochoa
Yannis Papastamatiou
Davon Strickland
Syra Tanchin
Michael Winegar

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

Scientists from the Predator Ecology and Conservation (PEC) Lab and Heithaus Lab for Marine Community & Behavioral Ecology within the FIU College of Arts, Sciences & Education came aboard for a shark handling workshop. Senior shark scientists instructed students throughout the day as they actively engaged in hands-on shark research aboard R/V ANGARI. Students learned how to build, prepare and deploy specialized shark research fishing gear called drumlines. Drumlines consist of a circle hook attached to a heavy weight. This configuration enables hooked sharks to continue to swim freely in a circle around the weight and minimizes stress on the animal. Across the two days, participants caught four nurse sharks, and with each successful catch, the students received additional training in data collection, which included measuring precaudal and stretch total lengths, tagging the sharks with a uniquely numbered identification tag from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Cooperative Shark Tagging Program, collecting tissue samples and determining the gender and maturity of the shark.

The workshop proved successful, equipping course participants with a deeper comprehension of fieldwork techniques involving sharks. The trainees will now apply the knowledge they acquired to their upcoming fieldwork endeavors, potentially enriching our understanding of shark biology and conservation efforts not only in South Florida but globally as well.


EXP 43: Yannis Papastamatiou Pulling in Line

Yannis Papastamatiou is an Assistant Professor at FIU in the Department of Biological Sciences. With close to 60 research publications, Yannis is one of the world’s leading shark behavioral ecologists. His work has been featured on National Geographic and BBC. Yannis’ use of new tag technologies on species ranging from pelagic oceanic whitetips to home-ranging reef sharks has advanced the field of predator ecology and led to evidence-based marine protected area zoning.


Sara Casareto

Sara Casareto is a Ph.D. candidate in the Marine Community and Behavioral Ecology Lab at Florida International University.  Her work focuses on behavioral ecology and trophic interactions. Her current research centers around elasmobranch biology and ecology, looking at different factors that affect juvenile shark behavior and decision making in coastal waters. The specific questions she is interested in involve risk from larger sharks, abiotic factors like salinity and temperature, and the presence/absence of different shark species. Originally from Maryland, Sara has been in Florida since 2016. She holds a B.S. in Biology-Marine Science from the University of Tampa and has studied marine species ranging from sharks to photosynthetic sea slugs. Sara hopes to further her career in predator-prey interactions to help elucidate management and conservation strategies for shark and ray populations. A passionate educator, Sara is involved in outreach through National Geographic and The Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and ANGARI Foundation.


Candace Fields headshot

Candace Fields is a Ph.D. student at Florida International University. Her current research focuses on the population dynamics and geographic population structure of large predators, with a particular focus on oceanic whitetip sharks. She will is using a combination of genetics and tracking to understand more about this critically endangered species with the hopes of aiding in their recovery plan. She is passionate about shark conservation and is a Bahamian advocate for the protection and importance of sharks and rays in The Bahamas.

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