Earlier this month I was accepted to the Rummer Lab to join in on the physioshark project for its third year. Beginning in 2014, the primary objective of the physioshark project is to develop a physiological understanding of how juvenile sharks in nursery habitat around Moorea, French Polynesia cope with the conditions of a stressful environment. While French Polynesia is a protected shark sanctuary, there is a need to address the juvenile’s physiological tolerance to environmental conditions of their nurseries that will likely become more severe as climate change progresses, as decreases in physiological performance may translate to decreases in fitness.
My involvement in the project will be understanding the capacity for juvenile blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus) and lemon sharks (Negaprion acutidens) to balance processes related to energy expenditure and acquisition while managing stressors across a range of environmental conditions. Ultimately, this work will be valuable for determining the conditions under which nursery habitat may become less suitable for pups, whose mothers return to the same nursery grounds year after year to give birth.
The physioshark project is a collaborative research effort between the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Centre de Recherches Insulaires et Observatoire de l’Environment (CRIOBE), and Florida International University, and is supported by L’Oreal-UNESCO, L’Oreal Australia, CRIOBE, the Save our Seas Foundation, the Australian Research Council, and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.