Featured Artist: Chris Fallows

by Frank Gibson, SRC media intern

When most people think of shark week, the first image that comes to their head is one of a Great White Shark soaring into the air in pursuit of seals. What most people may not know is that the man responsible for these incredible images is Chris Fallows. Chris began tagging sharks in South Africa in 1989 and with the help of local fisherman, was able to tag and release over 1500 sharks and Rays. It wasn’t until 1996 however when Chris and a fellow colleague discovered the fierce breach hunting tactics of the South African White Sharks. Chris uses this combination of location and time around sharks to educate and expose people first-hand to the awesome beauty of these apex predators in their natural environment.
Photo credit: Chris Fallows

Photo credit: Chris Fallows

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Shark Tagging with Coral Shores high school: RJD staff reactions to seeing a great white shark

by Becca Shelton, RJD intern

If someone had told me that there was a chance I was going to see a great white on one of our trips, I honestly don’t think I would have believed them. White sharks happen to be my favorite shark and I honestly can’t explain how it felt seeing one in person. Most of you have probably already heard the news since it was a phenomenal occurrence but in case you haven’t, here’s a firsthand account of what happened.

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University of Miami scientists catch great white shark in Florida Keys

David Shiffman, Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy student

Yesterday, during the course of sampling for our ongoing shark population survey, the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program (RJD)  team caught a great white shark estimated at 10-11 feet in length. The shark was caught east of Islamorada in the Florida Keys, in approximately 100 feet of water.

A great white shark caught in the Florida Keys on 5/13/13. Photo credit: Virginia Ansaldi, RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program intern

A great white shark caught in the Florida Keys on 5/13/13. Photo credit: Erik Mohker, a Coral Shores high school student


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Who’s your daddy? A scientific perspective into the evolution of great white sharks

by Becca Shelton, RJD Intern

There are few things I love more than sharks and a good debate. The white shark, or great white, (Carcharodon carcharias) is my favorite species of extant sharks and the megalodon shark (Carcharodon megalodon) is my favorite extinct species. It just so happens that both species are in the center of an interesting dispute. Who is the ancestor to the white shark? For a long time, I personally had no doubt it was the megalodon shark because of similar looking teeth and jaws. In reality, this is not an easy question to answer. One of the reasons is that the species of sharks that are theorized to be the “closest” ancestor are extinct. Since sharks possess a cartilaginous skeleton, there is almost never a fully preserved skeleton since cartilage does not preserve well, unlike animals with boney skeletons. However, shark teeth are covered in enamel which helps in preservation and fossilized shark teeth can be found all over the world. Most of the debates surrounding this white shark ancestry involve teeth, especially morphology and serration. The two major theories I will be discussing are the megalodon hypothesis (Carcharodon megalodon) and the hastalis hypothesis (Isurus hastalis).

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Photo of the week: breaching great white shark

A breaching great white shark in South Africa. Photo credit: Dr. Neil Hammerschlag