Florida Keys sharks – catching and tagging them for science

For scientist Neil Hammerschlag, it was just another Sunday. He was out cruising the reefs near the Florida Keys, hunting for sharks — not as trophies, but for research aimed at keeping them out of display cases and in the water. In many places, these iconic predators are disappearing.

A research assistant professor at the University of Miami, and the director of its R. J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, Hammerschlag spends every other weekend in southern Florida dragging baited, shark-safe lines behind a boat, hoping one of his research subjects will take a bite.

When he and his team catch one, they outfit the shark with either a satellite tag or an ID tag, take tiny samples of muscle and fin and a vial’s worth of blood (they check to see if the shark is pregnant), then send the shark on its  way. The whole process takes about five minutes.

Overall, many shark species are facing steep declines. Figuring out what is driving that trend, and reversing it, is a big motivation of Hammerschlag’s research. “We know a lot of shark populations are in trouble, but the question is, what is happening to Florida Keys sharks?” he said. “And if you want to be effective at conserving them, what would it take?”

via Science on MSNBC

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As the Junior Seau tragedy shows – life after football needs help

A man took his own life, and we might never know exactly why.

But regardless of what comes of any investigations or revelations, we’ve got enough circumstantial evidence already to have an idea that the NFL, its players and those who claim to love both have got to do something.

Fact is, too many men are stumbling unprepared into a scary world when the game stops and real life starts.

Whether Junior Seau’s ultimate decision to commit suicide can be traced in any way to his having suffered concussions during his playing career is important to find out.

But that just might be too neat a bow to tie on this tragedy, too straight a line to draw from head trauma to depression to death.

“The NFL is doing all these things to make football better and safer,” said former San Diegan John Lynch, who retired in 2008 after 15 years in the NFL. “But in a lot of ways it seems like they’re ignoring a real issue … The automatic response right now is it’s got to be concussion-related. I’d be cautionary of that. The league should do everything they can to find out more (about the long-term effects of head injuries), because I believe it’s real. But there are a lot of other dynamics that go with retiring and leaving that world.

Seau’s death sheds light on strain of life after football

 

// Photo – NFL.com