The Florida Program for Shark Research (FPSR), directed by George H. Burgess and staffed by a team of research scientists and educators, includes the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) and the International Sawfish Encounter Database (ISED) and hosts the preeminent website focusing on shark research, fishery management and conservation.
The ISAF, a compendium of scientific investigations of all known shark attacks on humans, is maintained at the Florida Museum of Natural History and is operated in cooperation with the American Elasmobranch Society (AES), the international scientific organization of researchers studying sharks and their relatives.
The ISED documents all known encounters with the federally endangered smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) and the equally threatened largetooth sawfish (P. perotetti). The ISED integrates data formerly held by Mote Marine Laboratory, two data sets from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a pair of data sets databases from private sawfish aficionados, plus the FLMNH’s own data. As a result, all existing information regarding U.S. sawfish are now held in one place. The website is one of the largest and most frequently accessed elasmobranch site on the Web and provides educational material about sharks and their kin, as well as serving as the host site for the National Shark Research Consortium (of which the FPSR is one of four members), ISAF, ISED, and the Smalltooth Sawfish Implementation Team.
The FPSR staff is involved in a plethora of research initiatives, both national and international. The primary objectives of projects conducted by FLMNH through the Florida Program for Shark Research include:
- Conduct studies on the relative abundance and distribution of sharks.
- Produce basic and applied studies on the biology, ecology and behavior of coastal and pelagic elasmobranchs.
- Actively engage in promoting the goals of international elasmobranch conservation.
- Conduct studies on the systematics, zoogeography and evolutionary relationships of sharks.
- Investigate, compile and synthesize information on shark attack.
- Provide educational and technical training of students and raise public awareness about elasmobranchs through dispensation of advisory information and educational materials.
The FPSR is a major research and education program that integrates cutting-edge research with education and outreach, reaching a worldwide audience.