Sharks are one of, if not the, top predators in the ocean. Our research revolves around studying and learning everything we can about their lives, behaviors and ecological interactions. We are currently studying sevengill sharks in Washington State waters. We are currently measuring size dimensions, tagging and taking DNA samples in order to try to understand the role of our research site in the life histories in the sevengill shark. We are trying to understand if the sharks are breeding or pupping in the bay or if the bay is just a congregation site for these magnificent creatures.
As a nonprofit our ability to do research is based entirely on donations and grants that we receive. While it is understandable, it is very frustrating to be turned down for grants based on the fact that we are not classified as a 501(c)3. Even more frustrating is having a person contact us asking about our 501(c)3 status and delaying their donations until we obtain the 501(c)3 status. We are a group of researchers that have funded the research out of our own pockets up until now. In order to continue our research we need to obtain our 501(c)3 status so we can obtain grants and donations. The $850 will be for our tax exempt filing fees.
Sevengill sharks are simply amazing creatures that are still surrounded mystery to scientists. While shark populations are in decline around the world and some populations have dropped as much as 90%, it is imperative to learn what we can. Sevengill sharks have a unique “nibble” bite pattern which is not what you would expect from a large shark. What we are studying could greatly help us understand coastal movements of the broad nose sevengill shark. We have the potential to also gain a better understanding of mating behaviors and behaviors associated with hunting. Sevengill sharks have been shown to pack hunt larger prey animals. Generally speaking, pack hunting animals have some mode of communication and a hierarchy with established leaders. We intend to study the sharks enough to understand the type and amount of communication that happens between sharks while they are in hunting mode. In addition we intend to establish a genetic baseline and compare that baseline to other sevengill populations around the world.
While we are currently seeking help with obtaining our 501(c)3 status any additional funds will go to continuing our research. Any amount that we get above our target will go towards gear for next season. We are hoping to upgrade our tags to PAT tags so we will gain coastal movement data over the year timeframe. Any excess funds will go towards PAT tags. If we are able to meet our quota on PAT tags, any excess money will go towards the development and implementation of training programs for the fishermen that interact with the sharks that will help insure the safety of both the sharks and the anglers.
Population dynamics- This will help us understand the usage of the bay.
DNA- This will help us determine familial relationships between the sharks in the bay. This can help us understand if the sharks are related to each other. Depending on the results of the DNA analysis we can gain a better understanding if the population in the bay is a resident or migratory population.
Tagging- By tagging with PAT tags we will understand coastal movements and behavioral patterns as well as gain a better idea of environmental preferences.
Ultrasound- By obtaining a portable ultrasound we can gain a better idea of potential offspring from each female.
Bacterial Cultures- By culturing the bacteria from the seven gill sharks we can learn the bacteria that are present in the mouths of the sharks.
Prey selection- By altering the bait and determining prey selection we can also gain an idea of trophic interactions
Blood Test- By completing blood test we can gain a great deal of valuable information on the life and health of the individuals and in turn gain a greater understanding of the overall health of the population in general. By monitoring the health of each shark tagged we will be able to watch health trends in the animals.
Growing up in northern Illinois my childhood was spent working on farms or in the woods playing. I rarely found anything interesting on the limited channel TV and was content being outside. While visiting a family member one day I was exposed to the National Geographic Channel, more specifically to an “undersea” episode. I instantly fell in love with the ocean even though I had never actually seen it. I began having that family member record every ocean show that was aired and longed for the day she would bring me a new VHS tape to watch. Out of all of the sea creatures, sharks captured my interest and the passion was born.
Since the time of that little boy, I have educated myself on sharks and learned everything that I possibly could about them. While in the military, I obtained my SCUBA certification and, would dive with sharks whenever possible. While terrifying at times, the sheer power and beauty of these creatures has never escaped me. In the summer of 2012 I, along with another student, founded a non-profit called the “Northwest Shark Preservation Society” (NWSPS). The NWSPS is dedicated to the study of sharks in waters off the northwest with a focus on the seven gill shark. While diving with a shark is entirely different than fishing for one, the awesomeness of the shark remained the same. However the first shark that was pulled to the boat for research brought a new experience that I was not expecting. Interacting with the immobilized shark in the water brought a great deal of sadness and a huge feeling of responsibility. Instead of seeing this amazing creature as the king of the ocean, I was seeing this fish for the first time as my subject. I controlled the fish. I decided if it lived or died. For the first time in my life I saw the fragility of this ten foot mass of muscles with teeth.
While the major focus of my education has been in Environmental Scientce with a minor in Aquatic Zoology, my passion has remained sharks, with an overall interest of how environmental factors change behavioral patterns.
Every researcher in the Society has a deep passion for sharks revolving around different aspects of their lives from prey selection to the policy that regulates fishing for these magnificant creatures.
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65% funded with 5 days left. Keep telling your friends. The support from those that have helped is amazing. There are HUGE things in the works for next season. We have a few items confirmed so I can spill the beans on two items. First- I have been invited to speak at the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria. I will be discussing sharks of the Pacific Northwest as well as discussing our research. The second exciting thing is the confirmation with the aquarium. Researchers with the NWSPS will partner up with the Oregon Coast Aquarium in late spring/ early summer to assist in the capture and transport of 1 or 2 females for the exhibit. There are potentially 2-3 other HUGE things in the works for next season but I have to wait on those. As soon as we get these confirmed I will make a post on our website and through our newsletter. If I know in enough time I will make an announcement in April at the museum talk. Visit our webpage and make sure you sign up for the newsletter to stay informed. You can also follow us on facebook for new and exciting developments.
47% funded with 30 days left. Keep telling your friends. We can make the goal. There are many exciting things in the works for next season already. Every time the phone rings or I get an email it is more exciting news. Don't want to spill the beans on anything until it is set in stone but next season will be very exciting!!!