Shark Biology and Conservation (section B)

Course Dates

July 28, 2021 to August 11, 2021


At least one semester of college-level biology or equivalent; background in marine or vertebrate biology is recommended, but not required.

Course Description

The last 30 years have produced an explosion of new information on the biology of the approximately 1,000 living species of sharks, skates, rays, and chimaeras, which collectively make up the group Chondrichthyes. This course will cover advanced topics in the evolution, diversity, anatomy, functional morphology, physiology, sensory systems, behavior, reproduction, development, and conservation of cartilaginous fishes.

Learning outcomes for Shark Biology and Conservation include:

  • Understanding of elasmobranch phylogeny and evolution.
  • Knowledge of how evolution has resulted in a wide variety of elasmobranch anatomical, physiological and morphological specializations.
  • Develop a working knowledge of the research methods used to advance understanding of shark biology, ecology, and conservation.
  • Understanding of shark research, objectives, and study species in the Gulf of Maine.

Shark Biology and Conservation Scholarship Opportunity:

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and its Gills Club are offering one full-ride scholarship for Shark Biology and Conservation at SML this summer! 

Click here for scholarship details and application instructions. (NOTE: Gills Club is no longer accepting scholarship applications)

Photo of students at the dissection table during Anatomy and Function of Marine Vertebrates
Dr. Stoehr (lower right) helping SML students prepare for a dogfishing expedition.


Dr. Ashley Stoehr:

Dr. Ashley Stoehr began her career in marine biology as an undergraduate at the University of Rhode Island where she studied the mechanics of feeding in small sharks, skates, and rays. She later received her Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth studying the anatomy, physiology, and ecology of large, open-ocean fishes like swordfish and bigeye thresher sharks. Her research involves analysis of temperature tagging data, exploratory dissections of the heart and blood vessel anatomy, measurements of gills, and mechanical and biochemical experiments using isolated muscle tissue. She currently teaches lectures and labs of Anatomy and Physiology and Marine Biology at Sacred Heart University. This is her fourth summer returning to Shoals Marine Laboratory – previously Dr. Stoehr has served as both TA and lead faculty and is ecstatic to return to SML in 2021!

Photo of students at the dissection table during Anatomy and Function of Marine Vertebrates
Dr. Stoehr with one of her favorite elasmobranchs, a bigeye thresher shark.



Course Numbers

Cornell: BIOSM 4650 (3 Credits)
UNH: MEFB 741 (4 Credits)