Big catch: This picture shows PhD student Corey Eddy with a 3.5 foot juvenile Galapagos shark landed by a local fisherman. *Photo by Sherry Berry
Big catch: This picture shows PhD student Corey Eddy with a 3.5 foot juvenile Galapagos shark landed by a local fisherman. *Photo by Sherry Berry

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10: Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of a shark researcher would be like?

An upcoming talk by PhD student Corey Eddy aims to offer an insight into his field of work and his project studying the island’s Galapagos shark population.

As part of the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute’s Shark Week, Eddy will outline the four chapters of his PhD thesis while giving an overview of what is already known about the sharks around the island and the world at large.

He will be showing photos of his work on the island throughout the talk and hopes to include some video footage of the sharks being caught.

“I am going to touch briefly on sharks in general, their ecological role, their importance to an ecosystem, some information about conservation like how some are threatened, and the amount of shark fishing that takes place in the world. Most of the talk will focus on the different species we have here.

“It will be like the day in the of life of a shark researcher — the fishing I do, the samples I gather and how it relates to the chapters of my thesis.”

Eddy first came to Bermuda in 2006 for a semester while he was studying a Marine Biology degree at the University of Rhode Island.

He is currently studying the biology and the ecology of sharks as part of his PhD at the University of Massachusetts School of Marine Science.

In 2006, he volunteered at the shark laboratory for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries in Rhode Island which is when his advisor suggested he study Galapagos sharks.

“I knew there was an opportunity to do this because there is a dearth of information — there is a void in our scientific understanding of them. I knew that if I went for my PhD I would study those sharks for the PhD.”

He said one of the main outcomes of his research could be identifying dusky and Galapagos sharks as being the same species.

“One of the things I am researching for the thesis is some genetic confirmation of their identity because the two species are almost identical — there are traits we use to distinguish them but you might call it superficial. There is a lot of variability and overlap. We have started that process, we have a lot more work to do but it appears that the two species might be one species. If we are correct then all the Galapagos sharks would revert back to dusky sharks.”

Eddy will also look at the movement and feeding ecology of Galapagos sharks as well as their physiological response to stress.

His research is currently being assisted by the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and he has received support from the Bermuda Zoological Society and now the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute. He says that the majority of help he needs for his project comes from fishermen who can take him out fishing, give him samples to analyse.

Eddy hopes that his thesis will lead to more research on the island including studies on Galapagos shark populations.

“We don’t even know if their numbers are healthy here. About 200 are caught annually here — there are no restrictions on fishing them here and we don’t have the baseline data to know how many are here.”

Education and outreach is important part of what Eddy wants to do during his time in Bermuda, he has already held some educational sessions with summer camp students aged from 6 to 14, and for the next three Saturdays he will be manning an information booth at BUEI from 11am to 12pm.

When: Today
Where: Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute
Time: 6:30pm for 7pm start
Tickets: $15 for members of $20 for non members. Available by calling 297-7314. There will be limited tickets at the door.