Students and faculty at the CSU’s Pacific Shark Research Center in Monterey have discovered dozens of new shark species. The Shark Lab at CSU Long Beach uses cutting edge technology developed by student engineers to track white sharks.
The two labs are recognized around the world for their research on sharks, which has been printed in countless journals and featured on TV networks including National Geographic, PBS, BBC and the Discovery Channel.
In both labs, much of this discovery and innovation comes from student researchers who get hands-on experience, training and guidance from faculty mentors Dave Ebert and Chris Lowe.
Students working in Dave Ebert’s Pacific Shark Research Center have discovered so many shark species, the lab has about 30 to be named.
“About one-fifth of all new shark species have only been discovered within the past ten years,” Ebert said. “My lab has been responsible for about 10 percent of those—making us the second-leading institute for discovering new species.”
The Pacific Shark Research Center is part of the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in Monterey, which serves a consortium of CSU campuses in Northern and Central California. Student researchers get hands-on experience using the lab’s state-of-the-art marine science equipment.
Paul Clerkin, a San José State graduate student working in Ebert’s lab, discovered eight new shark species during a 2012 expedition to the Southern Indian Ocean. His findings captured the attention of producers at the Discovery Channel and he was featured in the network’s “Shark Week” programming over the summer.
Ebert says he hopes that all of this attention can lead to more reliable sources of funding for research in his lab.
The CSULB Shark Lab focuses on understanding the behavior and migration patterns of sharks and rays. The lab aims to provide the public with science-based information about sharks so they will understand why they are important and why they are worth protecting.
Professor Chris Lowe is carrying on the legacy of Donald Nelson, who started the lab back in 1966. Nelson was a pioneer in shark research and the first to utilize tracking technology. Lowe continues to develop innovative tracking technology, his lab recently creating autonomous underwater robots to track tagged sharks.
Lowe’s lab often partners with the computer science and engineering departments at CSU Long Beach, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and other universities to develop and integrate much of this new technology.
“When biology students are working side by side with science and engineering students, they have the ability to get more done,” Lowe said. “Combining disciplines in this way is the wave of the future and something that is garnering interest and funding from major research organizations.”
Ebert and Lowe’s labs have teamed up for a number of projects, utilizing each other’s knowledge and resources.
“Our research is furthering conservation efforts,” Lowe said. “The more we know about sharks, the more likely we are to make changes that benefit both sharks and humans.”
Dr. Christopher Lowe highlights his lab’s research on white sharks, which serve a very important role in Southern California’s marine ecosystem.
Marine biology equipment at CSU Long Beach gives students hands-on learning experience.