Shark education program introduced at small Midwest school

Guy Harvey assisting in the release of tagged mako shark
John Bell
Science class students at St. Mary Central are joining with thousands of students from Florida to follow the migration patterns of mako, tiger, sand and oceanic white tip sharks on their daily travels through the Atlantic Ocean, The Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

St. Mary is the first Midwest School to participate in the novel Shark Education program initially created by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation for Florida schools, where students can study shark species, understand the important role sharks play in a healthy ocean ecosystem and have the ability to daily track sharks that have been caught, tagged with satellite transponders and then released for further research and study.

As part of the Shark Ed Program, St. Mary instructors received classroom posters, which illustrate 19 shark species, shark documentaries on DVDs and a Skype classroom tutorial session courtesy of the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center based in South Florida.

Mako shark caught for satellite tagging and release
John Bell

'It’s a great tool for teachers to use in the classroom to spark interest among students in science, and marine science specifically,' said Antonio Fins, Executive Director of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.

Fins said publicist for Guy Harvey, John Bell proposed an idea of taking the program to students far from the ocean, and as a former St. Mary Central student he recommended the Martins Ferry school as a test case.

'I think it is working quite well,' said St. Mary Central science teacher Paul Steckler. 'All four classes have really enjoyed the documentaries and we will be following the sharks by computer link as well as set up the tutorial for more in-classroom instruction.'

Students as well as anyone interested can check onto the institute’s interactive online websiteNew to follow the tagged shark movements in near real-time.

Sharks of the World Poster
John Bell

The website is an educational outreach component of the institute’s quest to study shark migration patterns, with the ultimate goal being to better understand and protect them, as some species are threatened or endangered due to overfishing and the Asian market for shark fin soup.

Nova Southeastern University’s Guy Harvey Research Institute began tagging mako sharks in 2009 to study their migratory patterns and now undertakes expeditions worldwide to study them. The school's marine experts have tagged mako sharks as far away as Mexico and New Zealand. In addition to makos, GHRI and Save Our Seas Shark Research Center scientists are also tracking tiger, oceanic white tip and sand tiger sharks, as well as blue marlin.

Schools interested in the Shark Ed Program and receiving the 'Sharks of the World' marine education posters should contact John Bell at prseitz@bellsouth.net.

About the Guy Harvey Research Institute at NSU: Established in 1999, the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) at NSU is collaboration between the renowned marine artist, scientist and explorer, Dr. Guy Harvey, and Nova Southeastern University's Oceanographic Center. The mission of the GHRI is to provide the scientific information necessary to understand, conserve, and effectively manage the world's marine fishes and their ecosystems. The GHRI is one of only a handful of private organizations dedicated exclusively to the science-based conservation of marine fish populations and biodiversity. The research, education and outreach activities of the GHRI are supported by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, AFTCO Inc., extramural research grants, philanthropic donations by private businesses and individuals, and NSU. http://www.nova.edu/ocean/ghri/index.html
http://www.sail-world.com/120742