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.

Shark Sighting in Oregon or Washington?

Tell us all about it on our Shark Sighting page to help us better understand when and where sharks are along the PNW coasts.

Make a Report

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.

Who are we?

Biologging tags, like this orange one here, can provide insights into shark physiology, movements and behaviors.

You can also see our team of scientists and students on our People page.

What do we do?

Tagging manta rays to study movements and behaviors

Want to know more about the research that we do in the BFL? If so, check out our Research page or follow us on Social Media.


In the News

Dr. Taylor Chapple, assistant professor specializing in marine predator movement and dynamics with the Big Fish Lab, dropped by KATU news to share about Oregon's local sharks and how to help change how we see these animals.

Alexandra G. McInturf

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...

blue shark photo courtesy Hatfield Marine Science Center

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...

Large gray shark with open mouth in green ocean.

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...

Linda King took this photo of the sunset and noticed what she thought might be a shark in the lower left corner.

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.