Research 6: Digestive physiology of bonnethead sharks

With the exception of the planktivorous species, all sharks are thought to be carnivores.  The bonnethead shark (Sphyrna tiburo) is a small species of hammerhead shark found in sub-tropical waters and is abundant in coastal Florida waters.  These sharks primarily eat blue crabs but they are frequently found with seagrass in their stomachs.  It is assumed that seagrass is accidently scooped up when the shark forages for crabs, but we are investigating if they are able to digest and extract nutrients/energy from seagrass.

Collaborator: Dr Donovan German (UC Irvine)

Publications:

Bethea D., J Carlson, L. Hollensead, Y Papastamatiou, B Graham. 2011. A comparison of the foraging ecology and bioenergetics of two sympatric hammerhead sharks. Bulletin of Marine Science. 87(4): 873-889

Parth J, Papastamatiou Y, German D. Digestive enzyme activities in the guts of bonnethead sharks (Sphyrna tiburo) provide insight into their digestive strategy and evidence for microbial digestion in their hindguts. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A