Florida Keys Community College Shark Expert Appears on ESPN2

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Florida Keys Community College's Marine Sciences Director, Dr. Patrick Rice, is the star of two episodes of ESPN2's "Vida del Mar". The new vignette program chronicles marine life with breathtaking underwater footage and is hosted by Captain Jose Wejebe of the popular sport fishing show, "The Spanish Fly". The two shows focus on Dr. Rice's pioneering research in the field of shark repellents. The first episode aired last Sunday, and the second will air this Sunday, January 25th at 8:55am EST.

Florida Keys Community College's Marine Sciences Director, Dr. Patrick Rice, is the star of two episodes of ESPN2's "Vida del Mar". The new vignette program chronicles marine life with breathtaking underwater footage and is hosted by Captain Jose Wejebe of the popular sport fishing show, "The Spanish Fly". The two shows focus on Dr. Rice's pioneering research in the field of shark repellents. The first episode aired last Sunday, and the second will air this Sunday, January 25th at 8:55am EST. Both episodes will be available to view at http://www.fkcc.edu later this month.

The first show, entitled "FKCC Shark Repellent", will explore how Dr. Rice works with both FKCC students and sharks in pursuit of finding a chemical shark repellent that can be used for shark conservation as well as to protect humans from sharks. Footage was shot at Florida Keys Community College and the Marathon Aqua Ranch and Symbiologics (MARS) facility. In the episode, Dr. Rice puts a small bonnet head shark into a trance-like state, called tonic immobility, to demonstrate how certain chemicals strongly affect sharks. It has been found that presenting small amounts of a chemical derived from decaying shark tissue elicits a powerful aversive reaction from the unconscious shark, indicating that it may be a viable shark repellent.

The latter episode delves into how very strong permanent magnets can be used to repel sharks. Dr. Rice conducts a series of experiments to show how sharks avoid these strong magnetic fields. The findings from his research may help to protect and preserve shark populations by: (1) keeping them away from deadly encounters with humans, such as being unintentionally caught in commercial fishing lines and nets, and (2) incorporating the magnets into nets that are currently used to protect beaches in places like Australia and South Africa but often entangle and kill many sharks.

Dr. Patrick Rice joined Florida Keys Community College as Director of Marine Sciences last August. Since then, he has been busy improving the present Associate in Science (AS) program in Marine Environmental Technology by updating old and developing new contemporary courses. In addition to the current Associate in Arts (AA) degree in Marine/Aquatic Biology offered at FKCC, Dr. Rice is developing curriculum for a 4-year Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Marine Biology with three distinct degree tracks, including ecology/conservation, fisheries science, and aquaculture. Dr. Rice has been very proactive in establishing partnerships with various marine businesses and organizations, and this spring term he is teaching a Basic Research Diving course and an online Survey of Mariculture (i.e. marine farming) course. For more information about FKCC's Marine Sciences programs, visit http://www.fkcc.edu.

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Amber Ernst-Leonard

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