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Juliana Maxey-Allison | 10th Street

Courtesy Dan Cartamil.
Click to enlarge.

Thrasher sharks were the compelling featured topic of Dr. Dan Cartamil’s DMFTalk in October, but not all. He also spoke of “the quiet beauty of the region that is in danger of soon being overpopulated” with the intent of increasing the awareness of the “uniqueness and fragility of the landscape.”
The sharks’ habitat, the waters of the Pacific Coast Region of Baja California, is where Cartamil, an expert in shark biology, conducts research for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He studies the sharks’ life cycle and works to protect migrating sharks from overfishing. He spoke of the thrasher shark’s start in life in a protected shallow nursery area, in Laguna Manuela. There, the young stay safe from larger predators until they grow to their full length—up to 20 feet—and venture into deeper waters. The Thrashers do migrate north into our local Southern California waters. He noted that they are not a threat to humans.
Advancing technology has provided new tools for understanding the movements of these sharks. Cartamil now tags fish with a device that detaches after 6 months and sends back activity patterns via email!

Cartamil is also an adept photographer. He combined his talk with a visual account of the 44 local Baja California fisheries he has visited since 2004 as presented in his recently published book, Baja’s Wild Side. He included photos of the geographically and topographically varied regions just across the border. He showed the pristine desert and stunning mountains that separate fishing villages, and the rough roads he had to traverse. The pictures of the fishermen in their coastline camps showed them living in humble tents or plywood structures. They were always happy to share their catch and the fish on the menu were “the best I have ever had,” reported Cartamil. He acknowledged that he “and many marine biologists got into the field for the seafood.”
Dr. Cartamil received his BS in Biology from SUNY Oneonta, an MS in Marine Biology from CSU Long Beach, and a Ph.D. in Marine Biology from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where his doctoral research focused on the biology of top predators within the coastal ecosystem. He is also an active consultant on water sustainability and gave a previous DMFTalk focused on desalination opportunities as an answer to our area’s need for water.


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