The Spiny Dogfish is a bottom-dwelling shark that may be found in temperate waters close to shores worldwide. It feeds on smaller fish, octopus, squid, crabs and jellyfish and becomes sexually mature between six to twelve years old. Before starting the lab, we were split into pairs and used various tools to learn about the exterior of the shark. We learned that it has pectoral fins, which help it swim more efficiently. The Dogfish also has spiracles, which are these very small openings that force water across their gills allowing them to remain stationary at the bottom of the ocean. The lateral line, which is common in most sharks, allows the Dogfish to feel vibrations and detect its prey. We were taught about the various planes and directional terms of the Spiny Dogfish. At plain sight, not a lot of physical characteristics can be seen but when an in depth look is taken, many of the small details come to life. You could actually see the spine of the Dogfish along its back!
The following week, Dr. John McCosker, Academy Sr. Scientist and Chair of Aquatic Biology and Dr. Meg Burke, Director of Education, taught us about the inside of the Spiny Dogfish as we dissected (cutting into) the shark. Intern Nicolette Ng made a startling discovery, “I opened up the dogfish’s stomach and inside I found a smaller fish compacted into the same shape as the stomach!”
The idea that people make these kinds of discoveries everyday as marine biologists is very interesting. It provides us with a first hand experience of what breakthroughs we could be a part of when we have a career in science. These trainings were very exciting to me because I have never dissected a shark before. Being a biologist seems like it would be a rewarding career due to the fact that you are able to discover something new everyday!