Jose Castro Home Page

Jose Castro

Official Title:  Fisheries Biologist

Location - where you are based:   SERO, St. Petersburg, Florida

Where you were born or grew up: Miami, Florida.

Education - where you went to college both undergrad and graduate: University of Miami, Clemson University.

 

1. Your earliest memory...how did you become interested in studying sharks? (elasmobranchs)

While in graduate school, studying interactions of pesticides in blue crabs, I saw ichthyologists misidentify sharks several times. The reason was that there were no available field guides to the sharks. To solve that problem, I wrote a field guide to the sharks in 1983.  Much to my surprise, that guide, The Sharks of North American Waters, is still in print.

 

2. What research are you currently working on?

1. A new mode of reproduction in tiger sharks. 2.  A history of shark biology.

 

3. Describe the most interesting encounter you have had with a shark.

They are all interesting. Anytime, you encounter a shark in the water or in the laboratory, it is an interesting day and you will learn something. But if I had to choose one, I would pick the time when in a submersible at a depth 2700 ft. in the Bahamas, I saw a normally sluggish moving bigeye sixgill shark move at lightning speed and take a snapper in front of me.

 

4. What are some of the biggest challenges you face in this line of work?

The great logistical problems and difficulties of studying sharks. We cannot enter their domain and study them as we do with land animals, like we do with gorillas, humming birds, moose, etc.  We cannot have them in captivity in a natural environment like we do with guppies or goldfish. So it is difficult to study them

 

5. What would you say is your biggest accomplishment to date?

My book on The Sharks of North America…it took a decade to accomplish.

 

6. What do you like most/least about your work?

Most: The chance to learn about little-known animals.

Least: Our inability to enter the realm of sharks to watch and study them.

 

7. Any advice to those wanting to study sharks (elasmobranchs)?

Sharks are generally not suitable for school projects due to great logistical problems of getting specimens, time required to get results, or the difficulties of field studies.  Before one can study sharks, all the logistical problems must be solved. The important thing in school is to get a superb education. Whether you work on ladybugs or anacondas is irrelevant. The important thing is to get a superb education.

 

8. What mystery about sharks would you like to solve?

The reproductive cycle of the tiger shark.

 

Myth: To study a shark all you need to do is put a tag on it.

Fact: Tags only tell us where a shark goes, not why it goes there or what it is doing.

 

Myth: You can study sharks just like you can study birds or mammals.

Fact: Large, free ranging marine mammals (sharks, whales, big fish, etc), often have entire ocean basins as their ranges, and thus are very difficult to study.

 

Please include any links to publications you would like to share:

Some of my publications are available in ResearchGate.

 

When you are not studying sharks what do you like to do?

Hunt, fish, read a lot of books.