Samuel "Doc" Gruber | BBFS Owner and Director
I have always loved the water and the beaches. As a child on Miami Beach, I began my interest in marine biology by collecting shells from the age of seven. As I grew up I spent most of my days in or on the water, teaching myself to SCUBA dive at age 13 in 1952 and did competition swimming and springboard diving as my major sport. In my junior year at college, while spear fishing I was menaced by a huge hammerhead shark. I was absolutely terrified and awed as the giant fish was beautiful, magnificent and was circling me! When he did not actually kill and consume me, I knew that I wanted to learn more about these creatures so right then and there I started my lifetime work on these splendid creatures! I decided to study the lemon shark because they were available locally and were able to survive in captivity fairly well. I spent my early career years in the laboratory studying their behavior and their sensory (vision, olfaction and hearing) physiology. But, soon I was spending so much time in the lab that I felt I was loosing my focus on the animal itself.
So I decided to change careers and to go out in the field with the lemon sharks. For over a decade I went to the Bahamas and Bimini in big modern research vessels courtesy of the National Science Foundation, in search of the lemon shark and its mysteries. During this period (1978-1990), I had been in a battle to the death with cancer called malignant lymphoma. It appears that I won, and getting a new lease on life I decided to forgo the research vessels and open my own field station on Bimini to conduct shark research on my own time. I thought I wouldn't have to beg for grants or funding if I could just get barely enough funds to run the station. But, eventually I managed to receive grants from the Office of Naval Research National Science Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation National Sea Grant and the Florida State Department of Education! However the events of 9/11 overtook our funding so that today we rely heavily on generous patrons and philanthropic private donors. Thanks to these generous people and our loyal volunteers and capable staff we are able to keep the Shark Lab afloat and provide a research environment for the worthy graduate students who train and study the endangered lemon sharks in the clear waters of the Bahamas.
Doc with a juvenile
© Tim Taylor
Dr. Gruber hails originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., grew up in south Florida. He entered college in 1956, studying first at Emory University and then earning his B.S. in Zoology from the University of Miami (FL). He followed up in quick succession with his M.S. and Ph.D. in Marine Science from the Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Science--again at the University of Miami. He has held several positions at the University of Miami and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Max-Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology, Seewiesen, Germany where he was a behavioral researcher. He conducted field studies at marine stations at Eilat, Israel, Hurghada, Egypt and Okinawa, Japan. His current position is Tenured Full Professor at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), University of Miami; he also serves as Adjunct Professor of Biology with the University of North Carolina (Wilmington) and is founder and director of the Bimini Biological Field Station, Bimini, Bahamas. Dr. Gruber is council member of the Bahamas National Trust and board member of the University of Southern Mississippi's College of Marine Science.
1955 Hollywood Beach, FL
Dr. Gruber is a recognized authority of shark behavior--both as to field studies and in regard to visually guided behavior, and physiology. He is a longtime member of numerous professional societies and founded the American Elasmobranch Society in 1983. He founded the World Conservation Union's (IUCN) Shark Specialist Group and was its Chairperson between 1991 and 1996.
1986 Sinking boat with huge
tiger shark (water spilling over transom)
Dr. Gruber has presented over 125 meeting and invited lectures on a wide range of topics related to shark biology. He has mentored some 35 graduate students at UM, worked tirelessly to promote conservation of sharks, educational opportunities for teachers and minority high school students, provides professional service as a grant reviewer and has taught advanced courses at UM in animal behavior, tropical marine biology, and the physiology and behavior of marine organisms.
The National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the State of Florida, the US-Isreal Binational Science Foundation and many NGOs have funded Dr. Gruber's 34-year research career. He has been expedition leader on 49 research cruises around the Atlantic Ocean. His prolific research career has thus far resulted in about 170 peer-reviewed, scientific publications. These ranged from works on shark repellants (including natural repellants such as that secreted by the Moses sole); shark maintenance in the laboratory; the visual, olfactory, and acoustic system of sharks; bioenergetics, age and growth, productivity, survival and nutrition in sharks; telemetry studies including habitat selection and homing of lemon sharks and eagle rays; circulating steroid hormones; commensal behaviors of stingrays and cleaner wrasses; and a number of anatomical studies on sharks. His recent emphasis has been on the ecology and conservation biology of sharks.
1964 Measuring shark on
Some Recent Publications
Guttridge, T.L., Gruber, S.H., DiBattista, J.D., Feldheim, K.A., Croft, D.P., Krause, S., Krause, J. (2011). Assortative interactions and leadership in a free ranging population of juvenile lemon shark negaprion brevirostris. Marine Ecology Progress Series 423: 235-245.
O’Connell, C.P., Abel, D.C., Gruber, S.H., Stroud, E.M., Rice, P.H. 2011. Response of juvenile lemon sharks, negaprion brevirostris, to a magnetic barrier simulating a magnetic barrier simulating a beach net. Ocean coastal management.
Newman, S.P., Handy, R.D., Gruber, S.H. 2011. Ontogenetic diet shifts and prey selection in nursery bound lemon sharks, negaprion brevirostris, indicate a flexible foraging tactic. Environmental Biology of Fish.
Newman, S.P., Handy, R.D., Gruber, S.H. 2010. Diet and prey preference of juvenile lemon sharks negaprion breviorstris. Marine Ecology Progress series 398:221-234.
DiBattista, J.D., Feldheim, K.A., Garant, D., Gruber, S.H., Hendry, A.P. (2010) Anthropogenic disturbance and evolutionary parameters: a lemon shark population experiencing habitat loss. Evolutionary Applications . 1-18.
Spaet, J., Kessel, S., Gruber, S. 2010. Learned hook avoidance of lemon sharks (negaprion brevirostris) based on electroreception and shock treatment. Marine Biology Research. 6(4): 399-407.
Adrian C. Gleiss, Samuel H. Gruber, Rory P. Wilson 2009 Multi-Channel Data-Logging: Towards Determination of Behaviour and Metabolic Rate in Free-Swimming Sharks
Chapman, D.D., Babcock, E.A., Gruber, S.H., DiBattista, J.D., Franks, B., Kessel, S., Guttridge, T., Pikitch, E.K., and Feldheim, K.A. (2009) Long term natal site-fidelity by immature lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) at a subtropical island. Molecular Ecology 18: 3500-3507.
Krause, S., Mattner, L., James, R., Guttridge, T., Corcoran, M.J., Gruber, S.H., Krause, J. 2009. Social network analysis and valid markov chain monte carlo tests of null models. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 63(7): 1089-1096.
Jennings, D.E., Gruber, S.H., Franks, B.R., Kessel, S.T. and Robertson, A.L. 2008. Effects of large-scale anthropogenic development on juvenile lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris) populations of Bimini, Bahamas. Environmental Biology of Fishes. 83:369–377.
Full listing of Dr. Gruber's Publications
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