World-renowned shark expert brings global shark conservation and collaboration program to Mote

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is pleased to welcome Dr. Demian Chapman as Senior Scientist & the new Director of Center for Shark Research at Mote. As a Senior Scientist in Mote's Research Division, he will also serve as the Manager for the Sharks & Rays Conservation Research Program, and hold the title of Perry W. Gilbert Chair in Shark Research. The previous program manager, Dr. Robert Hueter, has retired but remains involved with Mote as a Senior Scientist Emeritus.  

Dr. Chapman recently held the role of Associate Professor at Florida International University (FIU) in the Department of Biological Science, and most notably, was the lead scientist for the international initiative, Global FinPrint, the world’s largest-ever shark survey. At Mote, Chapman will build upon the lessons learned from FinPrint, as well as the legacy of Mote’s longstanding shark program.

“At Mote, we seek to recruit and nurture the best and brightest minds in marine science and technology because excellence and innovation in marine research is the foundation of developing solutions for the grand challenges facing our oceans today and into the future,” said Dr. Michael P. Crosby, Mote President & CEO. “In that vein, Demian not only brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise about the state of shark populations around the world, but also a framework from which Mote can both address challenges and build opportunities for the recovery and long-term conservation of these keystone ocean species around the world.”  

While at FIU, Dr. Chapman led Global FinPrint, which united researchers and collaborators from around the world to study sharks, rays and other marine life on coral reefs using baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVS) surveys, in order to assess coral reef sharks and rays, understand how they affect these vanishing ecosystems, and inform emerging conservation actions.

“FinPrint found that reef sharks were functionally extinct on many reefs in the 58 survey nations, but that they were doing well in places where people invested in management efforts that were culturally and socio-economically suited to the local community,” said Chapman. “At Mote, the next phase of this work will be to use FinPrint data and international partners to strategically invest in and provide scientific support to grassroots organizations, local governments and fisherfolk in countries with high conservation potential for reef sharks.”

Dr. Chapman will also carry on the legacy of public education and outreach about sharks, which famously began with Dr. Eugenie Clark, Mote’s founder. Chapman’s work with Global FinPrint is featured in the new Discovery+ documentary, Endangered. Created by the BBC Natural History unit for Discovery, this show is narrated and executive produced by Ellen DeGeneres, and features boots-on-the-conservation efforts arounds the world with endangered species such as gorillas, giraffes, lemurs, sharks, and more. Endangered premiered on the streaming service Discovery+ on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. In junction with the premiere, The Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund launched its new Endangered campaign to raise funds for the animals featured in the film, including sharks. 

Check out the Ellen Fund Endangered campaign:

Learn more at mote.org/fin