How did the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) get started and what is its intended purpose?
The GHOF got started 10 years after the formation of the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI), based at the Oceanographic Centre at NSU, in Ft. Lauderdale. While the GHRI was primarily concerned with research matters, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) was formed to raise more money for ongoing research work by the GHRI, and to conduct more outreach beyond the limitations imposed by existing under the auspices of NSU. Our primary tool in getting the conservation message spread is through the Internet on Facebook and YouTube. Many of the modern GH fans are under 20 years old and use these channels of communication all the time.
What type of research are you funding via the GHOF?
The research work conducted by staff at the GHRI is targeted towards large oceanic fishes, including billfish and sharks. Dr. Mahmood Shivji, the director of the GHRI, is a geneticist with a lot of experience in working with sharks, so it was natural to keep going along these lines. For an up-to-date summary of research work, please visit his site, www.nova.edu/ocean/ghri. A huge amount of work has already been done on the life history of the Caribbean reef shark, studying migrations, ecology, and commercial fisheries from Belize, to the Bahamas, USVI, and Brazil. We are working on the relationships between grouper and snapper aggregations and sharks that utilize these annual occurrences, such as lemon, bull, tiger, black-tip, and reef sharks. We are working on the migrations of tiger sharks from the Bahamas, Bermuda, and the USVI using satellite tags. We are working on shark forensics using DNA markers to identify body parts and tissue from shark carcasses in the commercial fishery, which has serious management and enforcement applications. We are working on a kit for the Fish and Wildlife Commission to give their agents in the field so they can determine what species of fish a fillet came from, helping to carry out enforcement. The same procedures apply to restaurants who sell catfish as grouper or snapper or as other high priced favorites in the restaurant business. We are tagging billfish with PSATs and assisting other organizations to do the same, for example the Offield Centre for Billfish Studies, TBF, IGFA, and NMFS. We are co-sponsoring a symposium on white sharks in 2010. We have genetically identified a billfish species, the “hatchet marlin,” as the round-scale spearfish, which has previously been counted as a white marlin which has implications in stock estimates of this overfished species.
How can people get involved in the GHOF?
People can sign up on our website and join at different membership levels. It takes cash to care.
Tell us how the GHRI began?
The GHRI began as a vehicle for me to channel funds from licensing programmes to undertake marine research work. I wanted to maintain my formal connection with academia and marine science, and here was a way to do it. The initial connection was made by Charlie Forman, my business lawyer and partner in GH Publishing, whose father was a huge benefactor to the Oceanographic Centre at NSU in Ft. Lauderdale. The mission statement for the GHRI is ‘to conduct high quality, transformational scientific research on marine fish biology and ecosystem function on a global scale to provide the knowledge required for more effective management, conservation, and policy practices.’ In addition, the GHRI, through the academic arm of the Oceanographic Centre, provides training to U.S. and international graduate students in disciplines related to marine research and conservation.