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Dr. Dave Ebert is the Program Director for the Pacific Shark Research Center (PSRC) and a research faculty member at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML), and an honorary research associate for the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) and the California Academy of Sciences Department of Ichthyology (CAS). He has been researching chondrichthyans around the world for more than three decades and has conducted research on six continents and in over 20 countries. He has authored 20 books, including a popular field guide to the Sharks of the World ( ONE OF OUR FAVS) and most recently revised the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (United Nations) Catalogue of Sharks of the World. Dr. Ebert has also identified 24 new species of shark and related fish. ( The Man Who Keeps Finding New Species of Shark). Special thanks to Dr. Ebert for taking the time to share his shark story with us!
1. What is your favorite species of shark and why?
Actually it is two species, the sixgill (Hexachus griseus) and sevengill (Notorynchus cepedianus) sharks. I started my career studying these two species for my Masters Degree, and then carried on studying them for my Ph.D. Even though I started with these 2 species 30+ years ago, I still find them fascinating and have a soft spot for those 2 species.
2. What is one species of shark you would like to see in the wild?
A bigeyed sandtiger shark, Odontaspis noronhai. It is one of the rarest shark species, is virtually unknown, and it is at the top of my list of species to see.
3. What was it like discovering your first new species of shark?
It is an amazing feeling finding a species that does not have a scientific name attached to it. The first time I found a new species I felt like an explorer making a new discovery! That sense of exploration and discovery is something I will never forgot.
4. Why has going to fish markets been a success for discovering new species?
Because at many of these fish market people tend to look at the large common species, and the smaller species are frequently overlooked.
5. Can you describe what it is like going to the fish market and what the challenges are?
Going to fish markets I think are quite exciting, its almost like Christmas, as you never know what you might find. Each market can have its own challenges, but often they usually speak a local language that is non-English, fishing communities are very closed communities and may not always be receptive to outsiders, they smell, might be hot/humid, or cold and rainy.
6. New species of shark are discovered each year, so what does this mean to you when considering shark and ocean conservation/management?
Only a handful of people actually spend time or know how to look for these ‘lost sharks’ as I refer to them. The vast majority of researchers and conservationists focus on the large toothy species, mostly white sharks. So if it were not for myself and a few others most of these new discoveries would never be made.
7. What is it like naming a new species and what is your favorite name so far?
Naming a new species is something that I think most people think of, but few will ever do. It is a lot of work, more than just the fun part of find it, but the work that goes into determining if s species is new, and the process in naming it is not as easy as one might think. It can take years, some times decades from initial discovery to naming a new species. The favorite new species I have named so far? That is easy, it is Lana’s Sawshark, Pristiophoris lanae, a new sawshark species that I named after my niece!