John Mandelman, a shark physiologist at Boston's New England Aquarium, discussed the worldwide plight of sharks, rays and skates in a presentation titled "Who's Menacing Whom: Human Threat to Sharks, Rays and Skates" on Oct. 5 in the Science Building. Each year, millions of these creatures are caught intentionally for use in everything from shark fin soup to dietary supplements and cosmetics. In addition, large numbers are caught accidentally when people are fishing for other species like tuna and swordfish. After being dragged in nets, sometimes for hours, they are hauled onto boats, and eventually discarded. That is where the story generally ends.
For Mandelman, this is where the story begins. He explained that while some species are very robust, many are more fragile and do not survive the ordeal of being caught. His work has been influential for management agencies, and underscores the importance of minimizing incidental catch and handling. Mandelman said the future of sharks and their relatives depends on implementing changes based on this kind of research. Mandelman's presentation was part of Eastern's University Hour Series.