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- by  New College News

Jayne Gardiner, Ph.D., and fellow hammerhead shark researchers (photo credit: Tonya Wiley, Havenworth Coastal Conservation)

Jayne Gardiner, Ph.D., director of the Pritzker Marine Biology Research Center and associate professor of biology at New College of Florida, has been awarded a $49,800 grant from the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) for her research on great hammerhead sharks in lower Tampa Bay.

The DCF is proud to continue providing critical support to community-led projects creating a healthier home for people and wildlife. The fund has been supporting efforts in diverse communities around the world aimed at saving wildlife, inspiring action and protecting the planet with more than $120 million distributed to nonprofit organizations since 1995.

“New College is honored to receive this grant from the Disney Conservation Fund,” said New College President Patricia Okker. “Professor Gardiner and her students can continue to conduct the important research that is essential to protecting our local marine ecosystem.”

Gardiner will use long-term acoustic transmitters to study habitat use by juvenile great hammerhead sharks, which are listed as critically endangered globally by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

“One of the major conservation challenges is a lack of information about habitat use, especially nursery areas, which are virtually unknown across the global range of this species. Newborn and very young great hammerheads are regularly found in Tampa Bay, so we have a unique opportunity to study a potential nursery area,” Gardiner said. “We are excited to partner with Disney to conduct research that addresses critical data gaps for great hammerheads, while providing hands-on training opportunities for the next generation of research and conservation leaders.”

The results of this research will improve management and conservation efforts for great hammerheads.

“Determining the characteristics of important habitats, like nursery areas, can help inform the selection of future marine reserves and protected areas for this species,” Gardiner said.

For more information on the DCF, visit disney.com/conservation.