Congratulations to Dr. Markus Horning and colleagues on recently finding out the North Pacific Research Board is planning to fund their Pacific sleeper shark study, starting this fall!
The ecological importance of sharks in polar and subpolar waters is poorly understood, yet shark populations are often impacted directly and indirectly through fishing activities. The Pacific sleeper shark is a large subpolar and deep-water apex marine predator, and evidence from our tagging work suggests they may be a key predator of juvenile Steller sea lions.
(Check out this video of a Pacific Sleeper shark from Conservation International Scientists from the University of Hawaii)
This new pilot project aims to capture immature Pacific sleeper sharks right here in Resurrection Bay. The team plans to bring up to five young sharks into the ASLC for short periods (one at a time) for select studies on their metabolic rates and basic biology, and will then release them again with telemetry tags to monitor their movements back in the Bay. According to the local fishermen we will be working with, we can catch small sharks (up to 2m total length) right here in Res Bay. If findings from recent studies on the closely related Greenland shark transfer to Pacific sleepers, these animals can reach an astonishing age of 200-300 years old! The two meter juvenile sharks we are hoping to catch might then be already 50 to 70 years old, but only be at the halfway point to sexual maturity. How crazy is that?
Stay tuned for more information on this exciting project as it gears up this fall!
In related news, the co-investigator on this project—Dr. Christopher Lowe at California State University at Long Beach—was recently highlighted on The Today Show for his work on Great White Sharks!
Check out this cool video for more information!
Written by: Dr. Amy Bishop