Expedition What's the Catch? Virtual Field Trip - Sharks: Research and Conservation

October 22, 2020 1:00 PM


Sharks are iconic and misunderstood species with a long evolutionary history. There are over  500 living shark species, all with unique adaptations, that have radiated into nearly every aquatic habitat. There is tremendous diversity in species life histories, reproductive modes, habitat use, sensory biology, ecology and behavior. Sharks are under global threat from human exploitation, primarily for shark fins. Over 30% of shark species are at risk for extinction. Today, research and conservation efforts are targeting effective ways to protect endangered species.

Dr. Mikki McComb-Kobza will share the story of sharks rise, diversification, and fascinating adaptations. She will discuss her current research on white sharks in the North Atlantic and other aspects of her ongoing conservation projects.


Dr. Mikki McComb-Kobza

Executive Director - Ocean First Institute

Mikki is passionate about sharing her love of the ocean. Mikki is one of the top shark experts in the world and her work focuses on the sensory biology and ecological physiology of sharks, skates and rays. Mikki is a tireless advocate for sharks and shark habitat. She seeks to highlight their global population declines and to frame new directions for their conservation. Mikki speaks, teaches and conducts research around the world including in South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. Her outreach efforts have been covered by the BBC, National Geographic, Discovery Channel's Shark Week, and CBC National Radio Canada.

Mikki strives to bridge the gap between research and public engagement. She believes that when
people are aware, they care and when they care, they act. Her current position as Executive Director of Ocean First Institute allows her to promote research, conservation, and sustainability. The Institute also supports expeditions and a variety of education initiatives that reach students
of all ages.

Mikki holds a Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from Florida Atlantic University and is the author of
numerous scientific publications.

Classroom Resources

What’s the By-Catch? Lesson Plan

Seafood serves as a primary source of food and protein for many people across the world, and the economies of many nations are heavily influenced by fish stocks and fisheries management. While efforts are in place to manage fisheries in many places around the world, there are still risks associated with fishing on a commercial scale. Many fishing vessels are equipped to target specific species of fish, for example, cod, but the large nets and trawls used for efficiency have a downside. This downside is called “bycatch”. Bycatch is defined as any non-targeted species that are brought in accidentally within the catch. In this lesson, students will use the engineering design process to create an alternative to modern fishing nets to try and reduce the amount of bycatch. They will also practice data collection and review.

What's the Catch?

Science Standards