URI Today

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Student’s research aims to reduce shark deaths from swallowing fish hooks

uri today feature photo
Courtesy Chelsea Stephens

Sophomore Chelsea Stephens spent the last six months testing a new method of catching sharks that reduces the chance the animal will die. The marine biology major from Dover, Del., found that the use of “hook blockers” significantly reduced the number of sand tiger sharks that were hooked in the gut after swallowing the bait.

“Sand tiger sharks are a protected species, and their population has been decreasing rapidly in recent years,” said Stephens. “If fishermen catch them, they have to be released. But the sharks swallow their food whole – they’re kind of like a vacuum cleaner -- so they have a tendency to get gut hooked, which can cause them serious damage. So even if they’re released they still might...

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