Science Online, meet the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program!

The RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program is headed to Science Online 2012, an annual gathering of scientists, science journalists, science educators, and bloggers from around the world! Director Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, as well as Ph.D. students Julia Wester, Austin Gallagher, and David Shiffman (who Science Online regulars know as WhySharksMatter from Southern Fried Science) will be headed up to Raleigh, NC in January, and we’re really excited! We wanted to take this opportunity to introduce ourselves to the Science Online community.

The RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program is based at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, one of the nation’s elite marine biology labs. We are also affiliated with the Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. Our mission  is to advance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) literacy and marine conservation by combining cutting edge research and outreach activities.

Read more

But Wait! There’s More…

Hello there! My name is Michelle Brown, and I am 13 years old. I attend Country Club Middle School. I’m writing this blog to clear the slandered name of sharks. Perhaps you have seen Jaws, and believe that sharks are vicious man-eating predators of the sea…? Well in my opinion, that is completely absurd! I hope that this blog entry will help you learn to see sharks in a different light.

When the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program came to my school, I learned many fascinating things. The most interesting part of the presentation was a section called the Number Game. I learned that more people die from lighting strikes than from shark attacks. Surprisingly, HUMANS bit more than 1,600 other people last year in New York City alone, compared to the 79 people mistakenly bitten by sharks in the same year. Sharks tend to bite people when we look confusingly similar to their prey (fish, seals, etc), but they really just look for those animals that are dead, diseased, or dying. Consider sharks the janitors of the sea.

My favorite species of shark is the whale shark. I honestly like the species because of its gentleness. Whale sharks are the world’s largest fish, measuring up to 45ft in length. Some researchers estimate they can live to be as old as 60 years, though no one really knows for sure. Also, the whale shark is a filter feeder, so it cannot bite or chew.

There are many actions that can be taken to help save sharks. For example, litter can kill sharks and other marine animals. Thus, recycling and properly disposing of your trash at the beach can make a big difference. When catch-and-release fishing, using a circle hook instead of a J-hook can greatly increase the chances of survival for a hooked shark once it is released. Do your part to protect our oceans!

 

Sources: Knickle, Craig, and Carol Martins. “Whale Shark.” Ichthyology Education. Florida Museum of Natural History. Web. 04 Oct. 2011. <http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/gallery/descript/whaleshark/whaleshark.html>.

 

A World of Knowledge from a Day’s Presentation

Hi! My name is Daniel Saiz. I am 13 (yeah, 13!) years old and go to Country Club Middle School.

Some reasons I am writing this blog is because one, I found out how sharks are being killed and abused worldwide and I felt disgusted that this was happening. Two, I love writing! And three, I really wanted the “Dolphin Tale” shirt (thanks by the way, I love it!). But the MAIN reason why I am blogging is because I wanted to help.

To start off I would like to say that Christine (Christine Shepard, RJD Multimedia Specialist) gave a flipping fantastic presentation. There was comedy, trivia, fun, and she was just jolly throughout. The most interesting things I learned from the presentation were all the numbers. There are large amounts of injustice and cruelty done to sharks and that really surprised me. I didn’t know the problems were that big and widespread. Did you know that more than 270,000 sharks are killed A DAY? It was really important for me because it changed my point of view of sharks. That still doesn’t mean that I, personally, would go in the water with sharks because I’m still scared that this would happen:

BUT now there’s this connection between sharks and me. It’s kind of like a warm glow, a growing respect. Nonetheless, I still feel like if sharks eat primarily the ‘dead, the dying, and the dumb,’ I don’t know how much of a chance little ol’ me would have! Luckily I probably wouldn’t taste very good to them. Even Stevie agrees…

My favorite shark is the Megalodon. Why do I like them? Well for one thing they can do this:

Fierce is putting it lightly. Megalodon didn’t earn its name (“giant tooth”) for nothing. Their teeth were about 7 inches long. These ancient sharks had more biting force than any other animal. In 2008, a joint research team from Australia and the U.S. used computer simulations to calculate a Megalodon’s biting power. The results can only be described as terrifying. Whereas a modern Great White shark chomps with about 1.8 tons of force (and a lion with a wimpy 600 pounds or so), Megalodons chowed down on its prey with a force of between 10.8 and 18.2 tons – enough to crush the skull of a prehistoric whale as easily as a grape. No one knows why the Megalodon went extinct. They were the huge, relentless apex predators of the Pliocene and Miocene oceans. What went wrong? Well, there’s no lack of theories. Megalodons may have been doomed by global cooling (which culminated in the last Ice Age), or by the gradual disappearance of the giant whales that constituted the bulk of their diet. Some people think Megalodons still lurk in the ocean’s depths…but there’s absolutely no evidence to support this.

Some actions to help SAVE sharks are simple. Stop polluting the water with garbage. They can swallow debris, which can kill them. Use circle hooks. Sharks are much less likely to swallow them and get gut-hooked (damaging their internal organs, or killing pups inside of females). You can stop catching them, chopping off their fins, and dropping them in the water. NEWSFLASH: SHARKS SWIM TO BREATH, and guess what they use to swim. Yeah, that’s right – their fins. If you don’t fish for sharks already, awesome, but you can still help by spreading the word. Remember, knowledge is power, and you can drive change.

Well, this is Daniel Saiz logging off, good night and safe driving.

 

Sources: Martin, R. A. “Origin of Megalodon.” ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research. Web. 04 Oct. 2011. <http://www.elasmo-research.org/education/evolution/origin_megalodon.htm>.

RJD Twitter teach-ins start Monday at 1 with overfishing

We will be hosting a series of Twitter teach-ins on marine biology and conservation topics. Each teach-in will cover a topic in a series of Tweets, including links to photos and videos, as well as NGO reports, blog posts, and scientific papers which people can read to find more information. These will take place on our Twitter account, @RJ_Dunlap, and will include hashtag #RJDTeachIn.

We encourage anyone interested in participating in the teach-in to follow (and encourage your friends, colleagues, and Twitter followers to follow) @RJ_Dunlap. We also encourage people to RT important points for their own followers.

Each teach-in will take approximately 20-30 minutes. Following each teach-in, there will be an opportunity for anyone to ask us questions. We will answer any question that people ask us.

The topic of the first RJD teach-in, which will take place Monday at 1:00 EST, will be overfishing. Future topics will include invasive species, bycatch, seafood sustanability,  marine protected areas, shark biology and conservation, sea turtle biology and conservation, ecotourism, and more- stay tuned! Additionally, if you have a topic you’d like to hear more about, let us know in the comments section of this post and we may host a teach-in about it.

The mission of the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program is to “advance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) literacy and marine conservation by combining cutting edge research and outreach activities”, and we hope that these Twitter teach-ins will help us to advance that mission. We hope that you’ll follow along with the first teach-in Monday at 1 EST, and we hope that you’ll encourage your followers to do the same.

Saving Sharks with Sophi – Blog 34 – Teaching Others

Blog 34 – “Teaching Others”

I talked to a kindergarten class about sharks. It was Ms. Bell’s class – she was my teacher when I was younger.  I showed some of my shark pictures and explained the different kinds of sharks. I talked about all of the ways that I am helping sharks and the ocean. Ms. Bell helped me explain some of the harder words for them, like research and satellite tags. The kids didn’t know that much about sharks, so I taught them a lot.

Sophi’s kindergarten presentation. Click to enlarge.

Sophi presenting with Ms. Bell. Click to enlarge.

After I taught them all about sharks, I gave them wristbands to remind them about taking care of the oceans and sharks. They were really excited to have me come and talk.

Sophi giving out wristbands. Click to enlarge.

Saving Sharks with Sophi – Blog 33 – Ocean Hero 2011

Blog 33 – “Ocean Hero 2011”

I won the award for Oceana Youth Ocean Hero. A bunch of people voted for me because of the good work that I have been doing with sharks. When I won, my mom came with the KARE 11 news to my class to surprise me. I was SUPER surprised when she showed up. She brought a hammerhead cake for my class to celebrate with me. All of my friends and my teachers were cheering for me.

Sophi with her celebratory hammerhead cake. Click to enlarge.

Then, I did an interview. My mom brought some of my shark things for me to show. My friends were really excited that they get to be famous on the news with me and the cupcakes were really good!  I am proud of my award.

Sophi’s interview with KARE 11. Click to enlarge.

Click on the links below for some of the news about my award:

http://www.rsmas.miami.edu/news-events/press-releases/2011/8-year-old-sophi-bromenshenkel-named-2011-oceana-ocean-hero/

http://www.kare11.com/news/article/926210/333/Richfield-girl-raises-4000-for-sharks

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/united-states/child-named-ocean-hero-57562.html

 

Saving Sharks with Sophi – Blog 32 – Hot Chocolate for Sharks

Blog 32 –  “Hot Chocolate for Sharks”

30 foot snow hammerhead with Sophi waiting for customers (Click to Enlarge)

Lots of people came to help.  Some of my family and neighbors came. One of my teachers and some kids from my class even came. We had a lot of fun.

Sophi & her Hot Chocolate for Sharks Stand

Sophi and her dad

——————-

Now eight year old Sophi Bromenshenkel is on a crusade to save sharks and the oceans.  Follow her blog with us as she finds creative ways to help save the oceans while inspiring others to do the same!! Follow all her blogs By clicking here!

Sophi is currently trying to raise money to support shark conservationFor more information on how you can support Sophi to help Save Sharks (Click Here)

Also, follow the tiger shark named after Sophi…Click Here

SEE SOPHI ON FOX NEWS

SEE A RECENT ARTICLE IN THE NEWSPAPER, THE STAR TRIBUTE, ABOUT LITTLE SOPHI’S AMAZING EFFORTS TO SAVE SHARKS WITH THE RJ DUNLAP MARINE CONSERVATION PROGRAM (CLICK HERE)

Saving Sharks with Sophi – Blog 31 – “Shark Month”

Blog 31 – “Shark Month”

My church had “Shark Month” in January to help me raise more donations.  I gave a speech to all the Sunday School and they had a big board of pictures up.  All the kids “noisy offering” is going to help sharks.  It’s “noisy offering” because we all drop our coins in a big pot.  We have been singing a shark song before Sunday School too.

Sophi with her hand-made “Shark Month” Information Board

Sophi gives a speach to Church Sunday School kids

It was so awesome for them to help me out.  We raised $116.32 in change!

Sophi Receives Donation from Sunday School Students

——————-

Now eight year old Sophi Bromenshenkel is on a crusade to save sharks and the oceans.  Follow her blog with us as she finds creative ways to help save the oceans while inspiring others to do the same!! Follow all her blogs By clicking here!

Sophi is currently trying to raise money to support shark conservationFor more information on how you can support Sophi to help Save Sharks (Click Here)

Also, follow the tiger shark named after Sophi…Click Here

SEE SOPHI ON FOX NEWS

SEE A RECENT ARTICLE IN THE NEWSPAPER, THE STAR TRIBUTE, ABOUT LITTLE SOPHI’S AMAZING EFFORTS TO SAVE SHARKS WITH THE RJ DUNLAP MARINE CONSERVATION PROGRAM (CLICK HERE)

Saving Sharks with Sophi – Blog 30 – “Make a Wish”

Blog 30 “Make A Wish”

I turned 8 years old and I had a shark/bowling party.  My mom surprised me with a hammerhead cake… it was so cool!  My friends loved it!

Sophi with her Hammerhead Cake!

Sophi’s Hammerhead Cake – Amazing!

——————-

Now eight year old Sophi Bromenshenkel is on a crusade to save sharks and the oceans.  Follow her blog with us as she finds creative ways to help save the oceans while inspiring others to do the same!! Follow all her blogs By clicking here!

Sophi is currently trying to raise money to support shark conservationFor more information on how you can support Sophi to help Save Sharks (Click Here)

Also, follow the tiger shark named after Sophi…Click Here

SEE SOPHI ON FOX NEWS

SEE A RECENT ARTICLE IN THE NEWSPAPER, THE STAR TRIBUTE, ABOUT LITTLE SOPHI’S AMAZING EFFORTS TO SAVE SHARKS WITH THE RJ DUNLAP MARINE CONSERVATION PROGRAM (CLICK HERE)

Blog 29 – Saving Sharks with Sophi – “Thank You”

Blog 29  – “Thank You”

Thank you to the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation team for my birthday present.

Sophi with her 4 D Shark Puzzle (Click to Enlarge)

I built my shark puzzle and I love it!!

——————-

Now eight year old Sophi Bromenshenkel is on a crusade to save sharks and the oceans.  Follow her blog with us as she finds creative ways to help save the oceans while inspiring others to do the same!! Follow all her blogs By clicking here!

Sophi is currently trying to raise money to support shark conservationFor more information on how you can support Sophi to help Save Sharks (Click Here)

Also, follow the tiger shark named after Sophi…Click Here

SEE SOPHI ON FOX NEWS

SEE A RECENT ARTICLE IN THE NEWSPAPER, THE STAR TRIBUTE, ABOUT LITTLE SOPHI’S AMAZING EFFORTS TO SAVE SHARKS WITH THE RJ DUNLAP MARINE CONSERVATION PROGRAM (CLICK HERE)