Bite Size: Bull Shark Predation of Tarpon

Neil Hammerschlag, University of Miami and Gareth Burghes, Lagomorph Films

Follow a journey with satellite tags placed on bull sharks and tarpon. Both of these large predatory fish are found in coastal in-shore ecosystems and the two species have similar diets. If given the opportunity, bull sharks will catch and consume tarpon. However, it remains unknown if tarpon adjust their movements to avoid being killed by the sharks. Using the information gained by the satellite tags, researchers found that tarpon actually give up some of the best feeding spots to reduce their chances of being killed by sharks. These results suggest that overfishing of bull shark could impact the behaviors of tarpon, which could trigger larger changes in the ecosystem.

This video came in third place in the inaugural Ocean 180 Video Challenge in 2014, hosted by the Florida Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE Florida). Scientists were challenged to bring their latest research papers to life in a short video that not only summarizes their important findings but also highlights the relevance, meaning, and implications of the research to people outside of their area of study. Submitted videos were reviewed by a panel of scientists and communication experts, but the final winners were selected by a diverse (and often very critical!) group of potential future ocean scientists—6th to 8th grade students from classrooms around the world.