Shark Research Program

Climate change impacts in shark

Increases in water temperature and acidity has been documented worldwide and is linked to climate change. Also reductions in oxygen content and increases in carbon dioxide and salinity are becoming more widely reported. However what effects this has on predatory species, such as sharks, feeding on the various local species is unknown. Working with other governmental and local organizations who monitor Shark Derbies held in the region each year, OERS sends teams out to assess morphometrics and document sex and any changes over time. This work has been ongoing since 2014.

Heavy metal accumulation in species of shark

Increases in heavy metal levels have been reported in the Bay of Fundy and surrounding waters. Whether this has any impact on elasmobranchs in this area is unknown and forms the focus for this OERS work. By sampling tissues from key organs involved in either storing or eliminating these contaminants in various shark species (mako, blue, thresher) caught during the annual shark derbies and as bycatch of the commercial fishery (dogfish), a picture can be formed of how relevant this issue might be to the welfare of species that either reside in the area or come to feed.

Plastics and their ingestion

Various sized of plastics are impacting aquatic species worldwide. However, very little research has been done on local elasmobranch species inhabiting the bay of Fundy/Gulf of Maine area. Micro- and nano- plastics are very small, almost invisible to the naked eye, pieces of plastic. These can be ingested or affect gills and even enter the bloodstream and lodge in various organs of elasmobranchs. How severe this issue is in this region and how species specific is currently unknown and forms the basis for this work.