EXTENSION CONNECTION: Are you feeling sharky? (MEGA LINK LIST)

BROOKE SAARI SHARKWEEK
Brooke Saari
Published: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 09:36 AM.

Are you feeling sharky? Since summer began, residents and visitors have been talking about sharks! 

The Panhandle's had many sightings, including a hammerhead making appearances along the Emerald Coast. Perhaps you are one of many residents who have been following the shark tracking website when Katherine, the white shark, or any other tagged shark species was visiting the Gulf of Mexico. 

Sharks have always been a fascination; that is one of the things that has made Shark Week so popular. 

The Discovery Channel created Shark Week — a series of programs based on these ancient fish — in 1987, making it the longest-running cable television event.

Be mindful that much of the series is put together with entertainment in mind, so it's good to study up and know the difference between shark facts and myths during this fun week.

There are many shark types all over the world, and learning about these great creatures can be a delight.

However, safety is the top priority. See a list of ways to enjoy the water without danger.

Following these simple steps as well as being mindful of your surroundings can help you enjoy these waters safely.

The Florida Master Naturalist Program suggests these sources for research during Shark Week.

•The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries has compiled many resources for all things shark. You'll find updates on current research, shattered shark myths, species-specific updates and much more.

•The The International Shark Attack File is the lone global, comprehensive, scientific shark database in the world. ISAF — created in 1958, owned by the Smithsonian Institution, and housed at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville — features regular updates on all known shark attacks. 

•Gene Helfman and George Burgess’ new book, "Sharks: The Animal Answer Guide" contains a wealth of easily assimilated information about all things sharky.

•The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Electronic Data Information Source contains information about sharks along with other program subjects.

The Guy Harvey Research Institute lets you track tagged sharks. The institute, established in 1999, is a private organization dedicated to science-based conservation of marine fish populations and biodiversity. Dr. Mahmood Shivji, the institute’s director, developed a method to determine the shark's species through a one-step fin test — vital to protecting imperiled species.

Follow Southern Fried Science, a popular ocean science blog. David Shiffman, the blog’s creator, is a Ph.D. student at the University of Miami’s Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. His Twitter account, @WhySharksMatter, has over 17,000 followers — more than any other marine biology researcher.

•Another shark superstar living in the Sunshine State is Dr. Robert Hueter, associate vice president for Research at the Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota and a senior scientist and director of the Center for Shark Research. 

OCEARCH facilitates shark research initiatives on a global scale by enabling specific teams of scientists from around the world access to live mature sharks at sea through use of their 75,000 pound capacity hydraulic platform. You can track sharks like Katherine on this site as well.

•Just for fun, watch great white sharks trying to eat an underwater robot.

Brooke Saari is an agent at the University of Florida's Extension office in Crestview.

Coming up:

Flood Insurance Workshops for Homeowners: Get updates on changes in the National Flood Insurance Program and coastal and inland flood zone insurance handling. Two options are available:

●6-7:30 p.m. Aug. 18, Navarre Visitors’ Information Center

●6-7:30 p.m. Aug. 19, Northwest Florida State College, Fort Walton Beach Campus, Building 8

Both workshops are free to attend. Contact Carrie Stevenson, ctsteven@ufl.edu or 475-5230, to register.

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