Beach Babies – White Shark Nurseries of the Northeast Pacific

TUE, APR 25, 2017

Coastal waters can be important feeding grounds for white sharks, particularly areas with high densities of seals and sea lions. In addition, female white sharks also visit coastal waters to give birth to their young. Baby and juvenile white sharks have been found to use shallow open beach habitats and bays as nurseries. So, what does a white shark nursery look like? Probably like your favorite beach. And, why are they there? Probably for the same reasons you are; it’s safe in shallow waters, there is plenty of easy-to-obtain food (not to worry – that doesn’t include you), and it’s warm! Just like any summer beachgoer, baby white sharks don’t like the cold, so they quickly migrate to warmer waters, following the coastline when the temperature drops. We’ve learned all this using a variety of new technology such as acoustic and satellite transmitters, autonomous underwater and aerial vehicles (spybots), and underwater camera (selfie) stations. We’ve even learned about how El Niño can change their migration behavior and how that effects public perception of sharks. Come learn what we think makes for a good white shark nursery and where we might predict the next ones to pop up.

+ BIO: Christopher Lowe

Dr. Chris Lowe is a professor in marine biology and director of the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), where he and his students work with acoustic and satellite telemetry techniques to study the movement, behavior and physiology of sharks, rays and gamefishes.

Dr. Lowe earned his Bachelor of Arts in marine biology at Barrington College in Rhode Island and a Master of Science degree in biology at CSULB. In 1998, he achieved a doctorate in zoology, studying bioenergetics of juvenile hammerhead sharks, at the University of Hawaii.

In 1998, he returned to CSULB to teach marine biology and oversee the Shark Lab, which was founded in 1966 by Dr. Donald R. Nelson, a pioneer in the development and use of acoustic telemetry to study sharks. It has been Dr. Lowe's goal to maintain the history of innovation Dr. Nelson established. For the last ten years, he and his students have been studying the baby and juvenile white sharks of Southern California and have greatly contributed to the field of knowledge for this enigmatic species. In addition, recent research by Dr. Lowe and his student team has focused on the development of underwater robots for autonomously tracking sharks and gamefishes. He has garnered several academic awards, including CSULB's 2008-2009 Outstanding Professor Award and 2012 Impact in Research Award.

As the climate and the environment continue to change, Dr. Lowe has become adept at speaking to media about how fluctuations in water temperatures and weather patterns have affected ocean life. He has appeared in many articles and on TV and radio broadcasts, including the PBS/BBC special "Big Blue Live", "TODAY", "Al Jazeera America", "CBC News", Newsweek, KNX Radio, the Orange County Register and the Long Beach Press-Telegram, just to name a few.

Dr. Lowe grew up on Martha's Vineyard, where he spent a majority of his youth fishing and diving the waters around Cape Cod. He comes from a long line of New England fishermen and whalers and believes a career focused on the ocean environment was inevitable.

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New England Aquarium