Welcome to the Big Fish Lab
In the Big Fish Lab (BFL), we study sharks and other large marine predators around the world focusing on their movements, behaviors and population dynamics. From South Africa to Australia to California, using state-of-the-art technology and techniques, we sample and electronically tag animals to gain insights into their lives when we aren’t there to observe them. In Oregon, we leverage partnerships with industry, management, science and local communities to study the sharks off our coasts to better understand the roles these animals play in our marine ecosystems and economies. Relatively little is known about how sharks affect our coastal ecosystems and communities in the Pacific Northwest, but here in the Big Fish Lab, we are changing that.
Did you know?
The Pacific Northwest is home to at least 15 species of sharks?! They range in size from the Brown Catshark (~2.2 ft or 65cm) to the Basking shark (>30 ft or 10m), with lots of sharks in between. To learn more about the sharks of the PNW visit our Sharks of Oregon page and explore the different species off our coast.
Big Fish Lab DEI Statement
In the Big Fish Lab we acknowledge there are systemic barriers and inequality in STEM fields- especially in shark science- and are committed to increasing representation of historically underrepresented groups in science. We are committed to inclusivity and strive to make access to research, opportunity and experience more equitable. We value diverse thought, experience, preferences and skills and feel we are stronger and more powerful as an inclusive community. We also acknowledge that we still do not fully understand the impact of historic and systematic inequality and as a lab we continue to actively evolve and work to fully represent the diversity of the broader global community.
As a largely field-based lab, we appreciate that field work can be intimidating and unwelcoming and we strive to create safe and accessible work space for all. We also participate in the FieldSafe program at OSU, to ensure that field work is safe to people of all identities.
Our Specific Actions
- We acknowledge the diverse cultural context of our work and integrate various types of knowledge and value in our interpretations and presentations
- We strive to offer opportunities to recruit and mentor students from diverse backgrounds and experiences.
- We use science communication to make science and research more accessible to people of all abilities Learn more about our ORSEA and OCEANTRACKS curriculum.
In the News
Like so many efforts to advance legal protections for endangered species, the science was key to shining a light on declining numbers of basking sharks. But it was how that science informed education and outreach efforts that finally led to the...
October's Science On Tap event in Newport will give you a closer glimpse into the world of sharks on the Oregon coast. It's a night of sharks, actually: which sometimes go by brooding nicknames like Denizens of the Deep, the Man in the Gray...
A study published by the Big Fish Lab’s Alexandra McInturf, as part of her PhD, confirms a striking decrease in basking shark sightings after the 1980s, and examines what is affecting their presence and distribution. These findings hold...
Taylor Chapple, assistant professor at the Marine, Fishing and Wildlife Department at Oregon State University, encourages people to explore the sharks of Northern California and Oregon - all 15 species of them.
“This study is really important because it gets rid of some of those questions about the age and growth patterns of whale sharks,” says ...