Duunnn dunnn…SharkFest is here

Lemon Shark

National Geographic’s must-sea event is back on July 5 — and FIU’s shark scientists are featured in four new SharkFest shows.

Before diving into the shows, check out some research FIU’s shark team has recently conducted. And don’t forget the chance to interact with our SharkFest stars at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 7 via Facebook Live to talk about the science behind the shows.

  • Sharks get by with a little help from their friends. FIU marine biologist Yannis Papastamatiou and a team of researchers found that gray reef sharks around the Palmyra Atoll live in groups  — and actually form long-lasting social bonds.

  • Sharks surf! But, not for the reasons you might think. Papastamatiou along with an international team of researchers found hundreds of gray reef sharks in the southern channel of Fakarava Atoll in French Polynesia surf on the updrafts from currents to conserve energy.

  • When devastation strikes the oceans, sharks can hold the key to recovery. A world without sharks is a world less resilient to extreme climate events, according to research co-led by FIU marine ecologist Mike Heithaus.

  • Could mercury temper demand for shark fins? Working with a collaborative team of researchers from the United States and Hong Kong, Garcia Barcia found dangerously high levels of toxic mercury in shark fins sold in Asian markets. 

  • Bimini dredge leaves its mark on sharks’ DNA. Andria Beal — an Institute of Environment Ph.D. candidate in Jose Eirin-Lopez’s Environmental Epigenetics Lab — found a dredging event in the Bahamas led to epigenetic responses in the sharks.

  • Shark poop can tell us a lot about a shark’s diet. FIU postdoctoral scientist Judith Bakker and Ph.D. candidate Maurits van Zinnicq Bergmann developed a new, minimally invasive way to reveal exactly what a shark has eaten. All that’s needed is a quick poop swab from, well, you know where. This information can help inform conservation and management decisions.

  • Tracking shark fins back to the source. FIU postdoctoral researcher Diego Cardeñosa led a new study that revealed 99.8 percent of the fins from retail markets in Hong Kong and China originated from the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Virtually none came from the Atlantic Ocean — which provides the first evidence that conservation efforts could be making an impact there.