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National Geographic, UT Professor Study Sharks in Bimini

Published: May 13, 2010
Sharks are at the top of the food chain and, among them, white, tiger and bull sharks are at the very pinnacle. What keeps them at the top is the focus of a National Geographic show that Assistant Professor Dan Huber will help film this summer.

Huber heads to Bimini, in the western Bahamas, on May 14 for five days of filming and research.

“The focus of the show is the predatory ability of tiger and bull sharks,” said Huber. “They are among the biggest and baddest sharks in the world.”

Huber will join Phil Motta from the University of South Florida and other Bahamian and U.S. scientists filming the feeding behaviors and bite force measurements of these sharks. Once back in Tampa, Huber will work with National Geographic at USF comparing the bite force measured by the sharks in Bimini with the bite force needed to crush sea turtle shells. He said tiger sharks are the only ones known to consume sea turtles with any regularity.

The connection between engineering and biology is what drives Huber to research the mechanics of these creatures. Sharks and their relatives, rays and skates, are the only species that rely solely on cartilage for skeletal support. And yet, sharks are the top predators.

“As I come to a better understanding of engineering, the more I realize we don’t know about the skeletal structure of this group,” Huber said.

Huber’s interest in sharks started at an early age. When he was 8 years old, one of his relatives was attacked by a shark.

“He got a good scar and a better story,” Huber joked. “It created a lifelong fascination for me.”

Huber, who has filmed several shows with the Discovery and History channels, did an appearance on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and has been published in numerous Popular Science Publications like Smithsonian Magazine , said this is his first time working with National Geographic.

“It feels really good to be working with National Geographic,” Huber said. “It’s been a lifelong goal of mine to work with them in some capacity.”

Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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