FSC’s Shark Day at the Zoo

Aug 23, 2016

by Cary McMullen | Publications editor

America’s obsession with sharks is a good thing for Dr. Bryan Franks, assistant professor of marine biology and a specialist in the study of sharks. He gets invited to fun events, such as the North Florida Shark Festival at the Jacksonville Zoo.

Dr. Franks was invited by a colleague at the University of North Florida to participate at the one-day event, on August 6. The Zoo titled it “North Florida Shark Festival: Conservation with a BITE,” and it featured shark-themed arts and craft booths, activities and music. Dr. Franks and senior Elise Pullen set up an FSC table to educate the public about sharks and discuss the research he and his students are conducting. FSC was one of nine colleges, universities or marine organizations to participate.

While Elise did shark-themed face and arm painting on the children, Dr. Franks set up a fossil shark-tooth dig. Children could dig through boxes of sand to search for shark teeth, and Dr. Franks helped them identify any teeth they found. The kids were allowed to keep up to two teeth they discovered.

Dr. Franks saw the event as a way to combine fun with science education for children.

“It’s important to engage the public on issues of sharks and ocean conservation generally, especially children, the future stewards of our environment,” he said. “I’m always pleasantly surprised by how many kids just love sharks and the ocean in general. Fostering that passion is important.”