Modeling nurse sharks

Conservation and fisheries management: can they coexist? They may appear really similar to an outsider eye but currently they are two strongly separated research fields, to the point that even the vocabulary differs!

Thanks to the PUF project I have the opportunity to start an internship for my second year of MSc with one of the first researcher to combine these two aspects together: Dr. Elizabeth Babcock of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (RSMAS). It has just been few weeks that I am working on it but the internship has already a charming project.

The aim of my research is to understand the protective potential of a marine protected area (MPA) on reef sharks. I am using data from Glover's Reef atoll, an MPA from Belize, a country where sharks are heavily fished and I will work on the nurse shark species (Ginglymostoma cirratum). It has been 14 years that nurse sharks are conventionally tagged in this region, and I will analyze and model this big dataset through Bayesian modeling. I will later use also acoustic telemetry data to estimate the probability of detection of these individuals and hence better assess their population status.

At the moment I am still struggling with programming codes but being here, at RSMAS, is already an incredible experience. I am working in contact with the best oceanographic researchers of the world, and no better words come to my mind to describe this internship other than an inspiring and truly motivating experience to start my future career.

I am sorry I cannot show you any shark picture but here some photos of my exciting R life, and some landscapes of the breathtaking center of RSMAS, on Virginia Key!

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