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Marine Biology Researchers Analyze Surrendered and Illegal Shark Jaws, Will Donate to Educators

Published December 20, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Dec. 20, 2018) – An environmental wrong is being transformed into an educational opportunity. A cache of nearly 5,000 shark jaws, including illegally-obtained specimens taken from an endangered species, will be given to educators following Long Beach State University researchers’ painstaking work to classify the materials.

An exporter relinquished the specimens to federal officials. Long Beach State marine biologist Gwen Goodmanlowe and her team of students subsequently studied the shipment of jaws, determining the cache included jaws of endangered and protected shark species.

Their work clears the way for Long Beach State to donate the jaws to K-12 schools, universities, museums and other places where children or the curious can learn more about the fascinating, and often misunderstood, underwater predators that are sharks.

“Students are often afraid of sharks as a whole and they don’t care about their demise,” Goodmanlowe said. “When I teach them about the biology of sharks and that they are an integral part of the health of our oceans, and that all species on earth have a place in the food web, they start to see the light.”

Goodmanlowe and her team studied the jaws for about six months, identifying species by analyzing such traits as tooth shapes, how a given shark’s teeth are distributed along the jaw and the dimensions of the jaws themselves.

The team, aided by Florida Fisheries Consultants, identified nearly 20 different species, including the endangered scalloped hammerhead shark. The cache also included jaws of two other protected species: the smooth hammerhead and silky sharks.

Jaws belonging to protected species may be donated to places like museums and universities where people have the expertise needed to curate those specimens. Jaws given to schools will be delivered with information to help teachers explain shark biology, ecology and the food chain.

Educators may request jaws from the campus’ Shark Lab.

“We want something good to come out of this. Hopefully, if the public sees this, they won’t contribute to this,” Shark Lab Director Chris Lowe said. “One of the educational messages is, you don’t know what you’re buying. You could be contributing to the poaching of an endangered species.”


DOWNLOAD: to download shark video please scroll to the top of this page and click "B-ROLL & IMAGES," then click "B-ROLL." The shark b-roll can be downloaded from that page.

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About the campus:
Long Beach State University is a teaching-intensive, research-driven university committed to providing highly valued undergraduate and graduate degrees critical for success in the globally minded 21st century. Annually ranked among the best universities in the West and among the best values in the entire nation, the university’s eight colleges serve more than 37,500 students. The campus values and is recognized for rich educational opportunities provided by excellent faculty and staff, exceptional degree programs, diversity of its student body, fiduciary and administrative responsibility and the positive contributions faculty, staff, students and more than 300,000 alumni make on society.