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Shark Observation Network

Shark Observation Network

The Shark Observation Network is a partnership of the Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group (GEERG), the Shark Research Institute (SRI Canada) and the BIOAPP. The network supports the collection and organization of data as well as the development and dissemination of information concerning the state of shark and elasmobranch populations and their worldwide distribution. The information serves to support environmental awareness, assessment and policy making, and public participation at a global level. Citizen scientists can help by reporting their own shark observations on a regular basis.

The broadnose sevengill shark, Notorynchus cepedianus, is the only extant member of the genus Notorynchus, in the family Hexanchidae. It is recognizable because of its seven gill slits, while most shark species have five gill slits, with the exception of the members of the order Hexanchiformes. The shark is gray or brownish with spots, and its top jaw has jagged cusped teeth and the bottom comb shaped. This adaptation allows the shark to eat sharks, rays, fish, seals, and carrion. The sharks live in temperate areas up to 135 meters deep and have attacked humans only while in captivity. This shark is ovoviviparous, bearing live young. It grows up to three meters long.

Project organizer Michael Bear is the Science Diving columnist for California Diver Magazine and an AAUS (American Academy of Underwater Sciences) Science Diver with 1000 cold-water dives in California. Bear says that sevengill sharks did not start appearing in the San Diego area until 2008, but that the population has since grown steadily. The Shark Observation Network is looking for citizen scientists and experienced divers to help them study sevengill sharks by contributing data, videos and photos to an online database.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Vallorie Hodges, Diving Safety Officer
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: Oregon Coast Aquarium
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • LOCATION: California - San Diego area
  • PROJECT TYPE: Observation
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages
  • TIME COMMITMENT: Variable
  • HOW TO JOIN:

    Visit the Shark Observation Network Web site and create a user name and password. Once this is done, citizen scientists can contribute their observation data, images and video to the organization's database, which is viewed by researchers as well as citizen scientists.

See more projects in CaliforniaFreeObservationAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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