Putting the bite on Jaws
George W. Benz, Ph.D.,
Middle Tennessee State University
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Pacific Forum – 3:00 p.m.
There are more parasite species on Earth than free-living species. This surprising fact, along with the sobering reality that human life and society have been heavily impacted and molded by parasites, is prompting biologists to closely examine the relationships between various parasite groups and their hosts. In this seminar we will examine the relationships between sharks and their ectoparasites. In particular, we will focus on parasitic copepods―highly successful, yet small crustaceans that infect fishes from the cold, inky abyss to the warm, sunlit surf zone and beyond. Consideration of the life cycles of these parasites compels us to conclude that by comparison their amazing migrations make our roundtrip travel to the moon or mars seem like the pursuit of children. We will also discover that the hallmark of some of these parasites is their ability to produce a thin tether which serves as a lifeline from which they dangle from their host. This presentation will take listeners from the tropics to the Arctic in search of some strikingly alien looking creatures that are pestering sharks while they share our planet.