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Photo credit: Michael Black

Georgia Aquarium

Whale Shark Behavioral Observation Program

Behavior researchers from Georgia State University and a team of volunteers and staff from Georgia Aquarium have been undertaking an audacious study of whale shark behavior, the first of its kind.  The team hopes to determine what constitutes basic behavior in the world’s largest fish.

Baseline Clinical Pathology Values in the Crevalle Jack
This in-house clinical research aimed to establish normal values for blood cells and blood chemistry for one of the most numerous fish in the Georgia Aquarium collection.  These normal values give veterinarians the proper context to understand abnormal blood samples taken later from a fish in need of treatment.


Photo credit: Jeff Reid

 
 
North America

Conservation Research on Spotted Eagle Rays in Florida and the Caribbean Sea
Little is known about spotted eagle rays; however, they may give birth in “pupping areas” not far from the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota Florida.  This project explores basic eagle ray biology questions
and asked “How might human activities affect the eagle ray habitat?”

Manta Ray Research in NE Florida (current)
In 2010, Georgia Aquarium staff began ongoing manta ray research, starting with studies of their abundance and distribution. More recently, migratory patterns have been documented by attaching satellite-linked tags. Results will benefit conservation biologists who are working to protect mantas, which are listed as vulnerable by IUCN.

Whale Shark Genome Project (current)
Georgia Aquarium researchers and their collaborators at Emory University are sequencing all the DNA in the genome of the Aquarium whale sharks (originally from Taiwan).  This will form an invaluable library to compare with humans and other species to learn about the evolution of immune systems.

Whale Sharks in Mexico (current)
Hundreds of whale sharks gather to feed each summer near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Georgia Aquarium’s field research is determining how many whale sharks visit the Yucatan, their diet and migration patterns. Aquarium scientists have used satellite-linked tags, photographic identification, scientific diving and aerial surveys understand this amazing biological event.

Whale Shark Health and Metabolism
In collaboration with biochemists from Georgia Tech, Aquarium researchers determined which compounds are present in whale shark blood and whether any of them can be used to indicate health or illness in this species.

Health and Nutritional Assessment of Southern Stingrays in the Cayman Islands 
Stingray City, Cayman Islands is a destination where visitors can feed and interact with free-ranging stingrays. Locals are concerned that this activity may cause a decline of local ray populations. This project studies the health and nutrition of stingrays by comparing the blood of animals from tourist and non-tourist locations.

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