Biotoxins Shark and Ray Assessment

Florida’s Indian River Lagoon (IRL) occupies 40% of the state’s Atlantic coast, covering a distance of over 250 km and containing one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the United States . An estuary of national significance, the IRL faces multiple environmental stressors that have the potential to influence all levels of the food web. However, these impacts may be accumulated and concentrated in long-lived and resident fishes such as elasmobranchs (i.e., sharks and rays).Our research addresses this void through implementing a pilot-scale fishery-independent survey targeting IRL sharks and rays. This survey, standardized to protocols established by fisheries monitoring agencies (i.e., NOAA) for abundance comparisons, also provides access to individuals for blood sampling to develop important physiological and epidemiological baselines. We are also collaboratiing with Mote Marine Laboratory, who brings their expertise in sampling the protected Spotted Eagle Ray and thus builds a strong within-state partnership

Collaborators: Mr. Adam Schaefer, Ms. Kim Bassos-Hull, Dr. Matt Ogburn, Dr. Chuck Bangley.

Funding: Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation

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