About the Shark Lab
The Shark Lab has its own truck dedicated for field operations around Southern California and is capable of towing our research vessels.
The Shark Lab has access to the RV Yellowfin run through the CSU Ocean Studies Institute and Southern California Marine Institute. We have used this vessel in the past for offshore projects and multi-day projects around the Channel Islands.
The Shark Lab has a variety of flume and static respirometer that are used to measure the oxygen consumption rates of sharks and other fishes. Our Loligo flume/respirometer is a 90 liter system capable of water speeds up to 1 m/sec.
We have four static respirometers (17 l, 11 l, 7 l and 3 l). These systems are integrated with a Presens fiber optic temperature and oxygen probes.
We count on 2000 L installed tank and a sea water temperature control system (drop-in coiled sea water chiller 621 watts - Aqualogic, Inc. and a Finnex titanium heater system - Aquatica, Inc.).
Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs)
The Shark Lab has an Oceanserver Iver 3 with Xylem/YSI sonde suite and InnovaSea digital acoustic receiver integrated (named “RV O’Donnell”). The AUV is capable of 3D mapping temperature, depth, chlorophyll, turbidity, salinity, and dissolved oxygen and is pressure rated to 100m. It is also equipped with a InnovaSea digital omni-directional hydrophone and on-board acoustic receiver capable of detecting tagged sharks and fishes while running missions.
The AUV is also equipped with three video cameras (forward facing, downward facing, and aft-facing) capable of recording HD video for up to 2 hrs. The AUV has 8 hr battery life travelling at 2 kts.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs - Drones)
The Shark Lab has a large and growing UAV fleet with a larger custom-built hexcopter - designed to carry stereo video cameras and other payloads.
We have a DJI Phantom 3 Pro, Phantom 4 Pro, Phantom 4 Pro 2.v, Phantom 4 Advanced, Mavic Pro 2, and two Mavic Pro 3 with Smart controllers. These are used for shark surveys along the coast.
The Shark Lab is one of the largest acoustic telemetry labs on the west coast. We have over 100 Vemco VR2Ws omni-directional acoustic receivers, a VR4 underwater omni-directional Iridium-linked acoustic receiver, three Vemco Live buoys, 2 VR2C-cabled acoustic receivers, 9 VR2tx receivers, and 3 VR2AR receivers. We have 3 VR100 ship-bourne acoustic receivers with directional and omnidirectional hydrophones and 2 RJE DPR diver-held acoustic receivers.
Semi-Wet Lab (HSCI – 116)
The Shark Lab is the only lab space immediately adjacent to the Marine Lab and the semi-enclosed outdoor tank bay. The Shark Lab has 4 work stations for students and worktop space for field research gear preparation and minor dry laboratory research. We have a 500 gal. (closed-system) polyurethane tank (5' diameter) tank in the lab for holding animals for research. There is "on-demand" seawater outlets and compressed air throughout the lab space. There is a separate dry lab space housing lab computers, dissection scope and electronics.
Semi-Enclosed Outside Lab (HSCI – 121a)
The Shark Lab has immediate access to the 1200 sq ft semi-enclosed outdoor tank bay, which has 10,000 gal recirculating system including chillers, protein skimmers, and cartridge filters. We have one 1200 gal (8' diameter), one 900 gal (7' diameter), and two 500 gal (5' diameter) polyurethane tanks for holding gamefishes, sharks, skates and rays. Additional tank space is available for experiments.
The Shark Lab has access to the Department of Biological Sciences Dive facility. We have 14 scuba tanks (aluminum and steel) and a new compressor and bank system.
Dr. Chris Lowe
Professor, Marine Biology
Director of the Shark Lab
California State University, Long Beach
Dr. Chris Lowe is a professor in marine biology and director of the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), where he and his students work with acoustic and satellite telemetry techniques to study the movement, behavior and physiology of sharks, rays and gamefishes.
Dr. Lowe earned his Bachelor of Arts in marine biology at Barrington College in Rhode Island and a Master of Science degree in biology at CSULB. In 1998, he achieved a doctorate in zoology, studying bioenergetics of juvenile hammerhead sharks, at the University of Hawaii.
In 1998, he returned to CSULB to teach marine biology and oversee the Shark Lab, which was founded in 1966 by Dr. Donald R. Nelson, a pioneer in the development and use of acoustic telemetry to study sharks. It has been Dr. Lowe's goal to maintain the history of innovation Dr. Nelson established. For the last ten years, he and his students have been studying the baby and juvenile white sharks of Southern California and have greatly contributed to the field of knowledge for this enigmatic species. In addition, recent research by Dr. Lowe and his student team has focused on the development of underwater robots for autonomously tracking sharks and gamefishes. He has garnered several academic awards, including CSULB's 2008-2009 Outstanding Professor Award and 2012 Impact in Research Award.
As the climate and the environment continue to change, Dr. Lowe has become adept at speaking to media about how fluctuations in water temperatures and weather patterns have affected ocean life. He has appeared in many articles and on TV and radio broadcasts, including the PBS/BBC special "Big Blue Live", "TODAY", "Al Jazeera America", "CBC News", Newsweek, KNX Radio, the Orange County Register and the Long Beach Press-Telegram, just to name a few.
Dr. Lowe grew up on Martha's Vineyard, where he spent a majority of his youth fishing and diving the waters around Cape Cod. He comes from a long line of New England fishermen and whalers and believes a career focused on the ocean environment was inevitable.
The California State University Long Beach Shark Lab has had a long and rich history in the area of elasmobranch research.
The Shark Lab was established in 1966 when Dr. Donald Nelson joined the faculty at CSULB as part of Marine Biology program. Don's commitment to the study of sensory biology and behavior of sharks was instrumental in furthering our understanding of these animals.
The CSULB Shark Lab, through the direction of Don Nelson produced over 50 scientific publications and trained 21 Masters and 1 Ph.D. student during his 30-year tenure. Many of the research projects conducted by the CSULB Shark Lab ventured to locations like Tahiti, Enewetak Atoll, and Baja, Mexico with funding from the Office of Naval Research and National Geographic Society.
Unfortunately, Don passed away on March 7, 1997 after a long battle with melanoma skin cancer. Dr. Christopher Lowe, one of Don's former Masters students was hired as Don's replacement in 1998. Chris took over the CSULB Shark Lab and keeps the legacy going. We invite you to enjoy a pictorial history of elasmobranch research at the CSULB Shark Lab. For more information about current research at the CSULB Shark Lab check out the Research pages.