Project Manager - Rhoni A. Lahn
I first became interested in stingrays and skates in 2005, while working for East Coast Observers Inc. The job as an Endangered Species Observer (ESO) offered me the opportunity to see multiple species in the coastal waters of New York to the Texas - Mexico border. Over the 10 years as an ESO, I noted that the population densities in the coastal waters had a great depth of variability from year to year and I wanted to research why this might be.
I recently graduated from Harvard taking a Masters Certificate in Natural Resource Management and Sustainability. I feel that continuing my education in the area of management and sustainability will help me better understand the role that mesopredators, such as stingrays and skates play in our environment. Depletion through overfishing due to sport and commercial endeavors is a viable threat to stingray and skate populations. With no regulations on fishing for these species, their populations are susceptible.
The impacts from Deepwater Horizon can never be truly calculated due to the lack of pre-disaster data. The biological nature of stingrays and skates as bottom dwellers means they were probably hit very hard but little data exists. This tagging project will provide concrete information on the types of skates and rays present, as well as potential migration routes and breeding areas that could need future protection.
My research aims to set some baseline data on the populations in the northern portions of the Gulf of Mexico. I am centered out of Fairhope Alabama and have had great success tagging off the coast of Alabama. In the future, I hope to tag in Florida waters, near Perdido Key and Johnson Beach.
Feel free to contact me about stingray and skate issues. If you know of an area that harbors stingrays, please let me know! I'm always looking for new places to tag.