Biology of Sharks and Rays
Dr. Dean Grubbs, FSUCML
& Dr. Gavin Naylor, FLMNH, UF

Field Course May 5 - 16, 2019

Biology of Sharks and Rays (4 cr.) Instructors: Dr. Gavin Naylor, (UF) and Dr. Dean Grubbs, FSUCML

Pre-requisites: This course is open enrollment targeted toward upper level undergraduates and
beginning graduate students. However, it is strongly recommended that prospective students contact
the instructors prior to signing up as there is a strong field component and students will be working
without many of the comforts they may be used to. (;

Dates: May 5-16, 2019. Days 1-6 Seahorse Key Marine Lab; Days 7-11 FSU Coastal Marine Lab. Fees:
Program Fee is $900.00 per student plus university fees (for 4 credit hrs). Registration: UF students
register through UF portal. FSU students go to: for
transient applications.

Biology of Sharks & Rays May 5 - 16, 2019

ZOO 4926 (undergrad) & ZOO 6927 (grad) Biology of Sharks and Rays (4 cr. hrs)

Instructors: Dr. Dean Grubbs, FSUCML & Dr. Gavin Naylor, FLMNH, UF. Prerequisites: lecture and lab
courses in vertebrate animal diversity. Dates: arrive the afternoon May 5th, 2019 depart afternoon May
16th, 2019. Days 1-6 (May 5-11) Seahorse Key Marine Lab, Days 7-11 (May 12-16) FSU Coastal & Marine
Lab: The fee for the course is $900 plus university fees. The last day to pay or defer tuition, housing, or
fees for all students, without a $100.00 late fee is April 15, 2019. Registration: UF students may register
on UF portal. If you are a non-UF student, please apply through transient portal at:

552 1st Street Cedar Key, FL 32625 352-325-6078

3618 Coastal Highway 98 St. Teresa, FL 32358 850-697-4120

Course Description: Biology of Sharks and Rays is an immersion course geared towards upper level
undergraduates and graduate students wishing to pursue research involving sharks, skates, rays and
chimaeras. Information will be disseminated through a combination of lectures, laboratory assignments,
and field exercises. The course will focus on the extant diversity of elasmobranch fishes, their evolution,
zoogeography and ecology. We will cover form, function, physiology and ecology of different species of
elasmobranchs emphasizing adaptations to different habitats. Toward the end of the course we will
cover contemporary challenges associated with fisheries management of elasmobranch populations and
their conservation. The course will have a strong field component, introducing students to some of the
species of elasmobranchs that inhabit the varied estuarine, marine, and deep-sea habitats of the
northern Gulf of Mexico. Students that complete this course will gain an understanding of (1) The
evolutionary history of sharks and rays (2) The forces that have shaped their diversity and biogeographic
patterns, (3) The variation in life history and ecology that is exhibited across the group (4) The
physiological, behavioral and morphological adaptations that have allowed elasmobranchs to colonize
different habitats. At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to identify the species that occur
in NW Florida waters, become familiar with a variety of sampling and tagging methods that are used to
study their biology, and explain major environmental and historical influences that have shaped species
abundances and distributions.

Registration: UF students may register through the UF portal. If you are a non-UF student, please
contact for your transient application. The program fee
is $900 plus university fees. The last day to pay or defer tuition, housing, or fees for all students, without
a $100.00 late fee is April 15, 2019.

Place: Days 1-6 (May 5-11) Seahorse Key Marine Lab; Days 7-11 (May 12-16) FSU Coastal & Marine Lab.
No text for course. All handouts and readings will be provided in class or made available over the web.

Readings: Students will be given reading assignments which will be ether posted on the course website
or handed out in class. The lecture presentation outlines will be posted on the website.

Fish Identification: Students will be expected to be able to identify and understand the taxonomy
and phylogenetic relationships among species studied in the lab.

Field trips: We will sample marine, and estuarine habitats over a series of field trips (weather
permitting) based out of Seahorse Key (days 1-6) and the FSU Coastal and Marine Lab (days 7-11).

Lab Assignments: Laboratory assignments will center around two main topic areas: (1) species
identification and (2) comparative anatomy. Students will carry out dissections and prepare a shark or
ray jaw for museum display and evaluate the utility of anatomical features for studying adaptation,
ontogeny, and evolutionary relationships. These are time consuming projects that will take up most of
the labs during the FSUCML portion of the course: Dr. Grubbs is building an elasmobranch jaw collection
to be housed at the FSU Coastal and Marine Lab. The work you carry out during the course will
contribute toward this effort. You will be assigned a species for your jaw preparation, based on
availability, during the first evening’s lab. Time is built into the schedule to complete the assignment
though it will require work after hours. You will be expected to review the primary literature associated
with the species you work on. At the end of the class, you will present your preparation to the class
describing the skeletal features that are distinctive and interpret these in light of the evolutionary
history, life history, ecology, physiology, and behavior of the species.

Lab Practical: Lab practical format will be short answer /fill in the blanks. You are expected to be able to
identify any shark or ray examined in lab to species. Also, you should be able to identify internal and
external structures and their basic functions. Questions about habitats and ecology may also be asked.

Exams: There will be one lecture exam, a final that will cover all the material covered over the entre
course period. GRADING: Grading will be based on the final exam score (30 pts), lab practical (30 pts),
osteological presentation (20 pts), and participation (20pts)

Staying at Seahorse Key

This first week of this course will be taught at the Seahorse Key Marine Laboratory, which is only
accessible by boat. Students will meet on Sunday May 5th at the dock at Cedar Key at 2:00pm. Students
can park in the parking lot near the dock at Cedar Key. Both students and the instructors will live in
dormitories on Seahorse Key in the Lighthouse. You will need to bring a sleeping bag, pillow, towel and
linens. All the cooking and meals will take place in the housing, where you will have access to a kitchen.
Each student and faculty member will fend for him/her/self for breakfast and lunch. We will probably
cook a communal evening meal each night for which there will be a nominal charge. Students will rotate,
with a different pair doing the cooking for each of the 6 nights at Seahorse Key. Bring your own food
sufficient for breakfast and lunch for 6 days and whatever you want to drink (no alcohol). Please mark
everything with your name since you will be sharing refrigerator and cooler space.

Staying at FSUCML

The second half of the course will take place at the FSU Marine Lab, 50 miles from the main FSU campus
in St. Teresa, Florida. Students will drive from Cedar Key up to St. Teresa in their own vehicles.
Accommodation at the FSU Marine Lab will be dormitory living, but, unlike the situation at Seahorse Key,
linens: Twin sheets, pillow case, blanket, towel, and washcloth will be provided. Dorm quiet hours are
from 10 PM to 7 AM. The lab is remotely located from any shopping - no fast food, no pharmacy, or
major grocery stores within a 30 minute drive. DINING -- All the cooking and meals will take place in the
housing, where you will have access to a kitchen. Once again, every student or faculty member has to
fend for him/her/self for breakfast and lunch and we will have a communal dinner in the evening. There
is a visitor's guide in the dorms with a list and directions to restaurants and grocery stores if you need to

Clothing and Field Gear: Field clothes, rain jacket, bathing suit, shoes that can get wet and dirty
(flip flops are NOT acceptable; only close-toed and heeled shoes are worn in the field and on boats), hat,
sun block, and insect repellent. Bring towels with you that you can take in the field. Seahorse Key is very
rudimentary with few facilities. However, there will be a washer and drier at the FSUCML (located
outside dorm5 on the waterfront) for the last part of the course. You must bring your own laundry
supplies (Please only use HE detergent in the washer)

Wi-Fi: There will be Wi-Fi via the GUEST connection at the FSUCML for the second part of the course. No
TV is available at either of the 2 field stations.

Restrictions: Pets are not permitted on either of the two marine labs.

View the course PDF

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2019 at 2:15 PM