Established & incorporated in 1990 by Dr. Samuel Gruber, the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation (BBFSF) aka Bimini Sharklab is a world-famous facility located on the island of South Bimini, Bahamas. Today we operate as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organisation, however, for the last few years we are also grateful to have been supported by the Save our Seas Foundation, and now form a partnership with the Foundation, collaborating and working together where possible.
The mission of the BBFS Foundation is to advance our knowledge of the biology of marine animals especially the heavily impacted elasmobranch fish fauna (sharks and rays); to educate future scientists at undergraduate and graduate levels; and to disseminate our research results to advance the field of marine science and conservation biology, as well as raise public perception and awareness of sharks and other marine species.
BBFSF has three main objectives:
- Understanding the biology of sharks and rays and the role that they play in the marine ecosystem through cutting edge field and laboratory research spanning multiple disciplines such as molecular and behavioural ecology, physiology, conservation and sensory biology.
- Educating future scientists through providing opportunities for students, to design and conduct research projects at the undergraduate and graduate level, to complete advanced university degrees in the marine sciences; and through voluntary training as interns, thus advancing their field experience and skills.
- Enhancing conservation and awareness through disseminating our results to both the public (tours of our facility, talks, TV documentaries, social media, posters and blogs) and scientists (peer-reviewed journals, conference presentations and posters, fishery reports and books).
The Sharklab offers subsidized internships to persons 18 or older who wish to learn field research skills. Our approach is to integrate students with active marine scientists from around the globe. We thus support about ten international interns monthly, for periods up to 6 months. Interns experience a unique opportunity to take part in our intensive field research, learning practical and theoretical skills that will enhance their prospects as future scientists. The volunteers live at the station with three full time PhD students and six staff members. The Sharklab depends on the efforts of dedicated volunteers to accomplish our research and the station has hosted over 1000 interns from around the globe since its inception.
At BBFS we are seeking general interns who can collect data for our PhD student’s projects and assist with the daily running of the station. We also seek project students who undertake normal volunteer activities while completing their own research as part of their undergraduate/graduate project under the guidance of our PhD students.
The day-to-day activities of the Sharklab are never the same, there is different work to be done each week and activities can vary seasonally with the presence/ absence of certain species. Some of the activities you may be involved in include:
- Assisting the Principle Investigators with data collection
- Aid BBFS Staff and PI’s with the capture and scientific workup of a variety of elasmobranch species
- Assisting on shallow-water and deep-water scientific long lines to look at abundance and distribution of shark species around Bimini.
- Assisting with acoustic receiver array downloads
- Assessing seasonal residency and population structure of great hammerhead sharks in Bimini (winter only)
- General station maintenance and repair of scientific equipment
- Gillnetting for juvenile lemon sharks
- Active tracking of elasmobranchs
- Lemon shark semi-captive trials for PI project
- Investigating behaviour, ecological role and reproductive state of a mesoconsumer population of southern stingrays as a function of varying predator densities.
- Annual census of Bimini’s juvenile lemon shark population (spring only)
- Fishing for bait
- Aiding visiting scientists with their research
- Community outreach projects
- Working with BBFS Staff to educate the public about our research
For more information or to apply as an volunteer please see our website www.biminisharklab.com/opportunities/volunteer
One of the Sharklab’s main aims is to aid in educating the public, consequently we have been offering a unique opportunity – Research Experiences – to the public for a couple of years, which allows guests to gain hands on field experience working with sharks. This is an all-inclusive 5-day experience that allows guests the opportunity to assist with multiple research projects studying the many different elasmobranchs that cruise the waters around Bimini.
Daily field trips and activities are provided to immerse you in the rich flora and fauna of Bimini’s diverse and pristine habitats that support the sharks you will encounter. From mangroves forests to seagrass meadows and shallow sandy flats to rocky shores fringed with coral reefs, you will gain insight into the role of sharks in these unique ecosystems. Guests will learn how sharks are captured, tagged and released for scientific research, observe a dozen Caribbean reef sharks while they actively compete for food, watch a great hammerhead glide over the sand in search of prey (winter season only) and more. Classroom lectures and presentations provide for engaging discussions on the biology and ecology of sharks, as well as the research conducted at the Shark Lab over the past 28 years.
These experiences are offered once a month with a max capacity for 6 guests. There are no age requirements for this experience, it is open to all interested individuals but guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. If you are interested in this experience, more information is available online
More information about the on-going research projects, volunteering and public opportunities offered at BBFSF is available on our website www.biminisharklab.com
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