The University of Miami's R.J. Dunlap (RJD) Marine Conservation Program was awarded a $30,000 grant by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) to conduct research designed to further shark conservation off the Florida coast. The grant has the potential of reaching a total of $120,000 over the next four years.
"The ocean's top predators are under unprecedented pressure from unsustainable fishing practices and changes in the ocean chemistry," said world-renowned marine artist and biologist Dr. Guy Harvey. "This research will give us great insight into how their removal will impact the entire marine ecosystem."
Headed by Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, the RJD Program is investigating the effects on the ecosystem structure due to overfishing top predators. "Models have indicated that a decline in top predators will decrease the number of economically important fishes, and even a loss of important habitats such as coral reefs," according to the proposal.
The team will conduct a series of field and laboratory studies including field surveys, stable isotope analysis, genetic analysis and blood hormone analysis. Taken in marine protected areas and areas subject to fishing throughout the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas, field studies will be used to determine community structure and patterns.