Biology of Sharks & Rays
NOW AVAILABLE FOR UNDERGRADUATE OR GENERAL INTEREST (CERTIFICATE)
Oceanographic Center : Registration
Sharks and rays (collectively termed "elasmobranchs")
are creatures of biological elegance and perennial fascination.
In recent years, new technologies have revealed fascinating details
about the heretofore secret lives of elasmobranchs as well as
demonstrated their population declines on an unprecedented and
global scale.This unique 12-week course is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary
introduction to the evolution, biology, ecology, and conservation
of elasmobranch fishes.
Topics covered include evolution, classification, diversity,
anatomy, physiology, sensory biology, locomotion, feeding, reproduction,
life history, behavior, distribution, ecology, and conservation
of sharks and rays.
A credit course for advanced undergraduate students (transfer
credit is available for students from other institutions) and
general interest distance learners. Elasmobranchs are important
components in virtually all marine ecosystems and in a few tropical
freshwater ones as well. Sharks and rays are commercially exploited
and vulnerable to directed fisheries, bycatch, and anthropogenic
habitat erosion. This course will play an important role in enriching
the educational background and professional understanding of marine
biology, zoology, or coastal management degree students.
Prerequisites: If taken toward an undergraduate degree, it is
recommended that students have completed at least second-year
biology courses. No prerequisites for those taking the course
for general interest.
This course 1) integrates and amplifies scientific learning from
basic biology, physics, and chemistry, and 2) provides students
with a comprehensive, well-rounded, and up-to-date understanding
of the biology of elasmobranch fishes, 3) building toward pursuit
of careers in marine ecology, zoology, ichthyology, and fisheries
Class Format: This course is taught on-line,
based on peer-reviewed literature in the anthology selected as
the course textbook (see below). Selected readings will be assigned
each week for background reading, and classroom discussions. The
estimated time commitment is five to ten hours per unit, on average,
to complete readings and participate in course activities.
Course Materials: Course content is delivered
as self-guided narrated and illustrated lectures and Biology of
Sharks and their Relatives (Carrier et al. [eds], CRC Press, May
2004), a newly published review volume selected by the course
instructor as a source of supplementary readings; additional supplementary
material includes on-line video clips and use of selected Internet
resources. Interaction with the course instructor is via E-mail
and participation in on-line discussions centering on topics set
by the instructor.
Print and Web-CT. Unit Plan: see
NSU website for more information & course syllabus
Students are expected read all material provided. Attendance
will be gauged by participation in on-line discussion and submission
of research projects.
If enough participation can be secured, a formal shark-watching
field trip in the Florida-Bahamas region can be arranged, in which
students will apply what they have learned about shark behavior
in the course.
Participation in on-line discussions (20%), an on-line mid-term
test (short answer, 25%), a term project on an elasmobranch-related
topic of the student's choice but subject to approval by the course
instructor (25%), and a final examination consisting of short
answers plus a choice of two of six integrative essay questions,
to be submitted via E-mail attachment and graded by the instructor
All exercises, including exams and submissions must be E-mailed
to instructor. Grading will take into consideration: content,
organization, accuracy and quality of presentation. Late assignments
will incur in a 20-point reduction (out of a possible maximum
About the Instructor
R. Aidan Martin is the Director of the ReefQuest Centre for Shark
Research, a Research Associate of the
Zoology Department of the University of British Columbia, and
an Adjunct Professor of the Oceanographic Center of Nova Southeastern
Aidan is internationally recognized as an expert in shark biology
and behaviour. He has studied elasmobranch fishes for over 30
years in some 40 countries or island states. His main areas of
research are the evolution, phyletic relationships, functional
morphology, life history, behavioral ecology, distribution, and
conservation of elasmobranchs. A prolific writer and illustrator,
Aidan has published over 130 scientific and popular articles and
four books. He has also organized international scientific symposia
on the biology of deep-sea cartilaginous fishes and the biology
and conservation of freshwater elasmobranchs.
Aidan is much sought after as a public speaker and television
presenter. He is also an avid diver, having logged more than 14,000
hours in the ocean with some 90 species of sharks and rays.
If you register for Biology of Sharks and Rays, you will be expected
to make contact with the co-ordinator by e-mail. Please address
requests for additional information regarding the Biology of Sharks
and Rays distance education course to firstname.lastname@example.org