Despite their fundamental role in ecosystems around the world, predators and their effects on ecosystems remain poorly understood, particularly in the ocean. Large predators are also the most heavily impacted by human activities; sharks, tuna, barracuda, and grouper are threatened in many of the ecosystems they inhabit in the southern Atlantic and Caribbean.

Biscayne BayIn particular, human populations are exerting disproportionally high stress on coastal marine systems across the globe, resulting from overfishing, habitat loss, and warming oceans. The scientific community is currently behind in understanding some of the ecological and functional roles of marine predators living near coastal cities as well as the impact from these human-induced stressors.

In the waters off Miami, we are investigating the diversity, abundance, ecology, and activity patterns of marine predators on coral reef ecosystems, focusing our efforts on Biscayne National Park. To non-invasively understand the local predator communities and the effects they have on their prey, we are using baited remote underwater video cameras (BRUVs), a widely-used and popular technique in marine biology. Our research will be used to improve our understanding of shark and marine predator populations in the subtropical Atlantic, for the purposes of restoring the ecological integrity of the waters off Miami, USA and elsewhere in the Caribbean. A special focus will be made on the ongoing conservation of Biscayne National Park. Beneath the Waves is also involved in a collaborative project with the University of Miami in the same area focusing on understanding how sharks are affected by a gradient of urbanization.

Project partners and contributors include: Dr. Simon Brandl (Smithsonian Institution) and Dr. Nigel Hussey (University of Windsor).

Other Projects: