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Shark research

Identifier: Film Collection no. 274

Scope and Contents

Originally made for the WABC Expeditions television series, this film was taken at the AMNH Lerner Marine Laboratory on Bimini Island, Bahamas. Initial aerial views of Bimini and establishing shots of the Lerner Marine Laboratory are shown. Robert Mathewson, Director, discusses the objectives of the laboratory as well as the areas of on-going research. New Zealanders Peter Suckling and his wife conduct experiments with the lateral line system of fish, a group of sensory organs associated with detecting vibrations and movements in water. Margaret C. Tavolga, research associate in the AMNH Department of Animal Behavior, exames porpoise tissue under a microscope. Jerome Wodinsky, of the New School for Social Research, uses electric shock in experiments involving the conditioned reflexes of fish. The work of Perry Gilbert (professor of zoology at Cornell University) is seen in detail. His research involves a series of experiments to show how sharks eat, what attracts them to food, and what prevents them from attacking sea bathers. Stan Waterman, photographer, and Colonel John D. Craig, producer, film the underwater sequences. A stingray is petted before the divers descend in a steel cage, from which lemon sharks are fed and studied. The sequence that follows shows a collecting trip to catch live sharks. A lemon shark and a tiger shark are caught; the lemon shark is placed in a live-well on board the ship, but the tiger shark has to be towed in. Next a bubble-curtain experiment is conducted with tiger sharks to see if such a barrier would deter sharks from bathing beaches; it is concluded that a bubble-curtain would not discourage sharks from swimming near beaches. The importance of vision in sharks for finding food is the subject of the next experiment. A lemon shark is anesthetized and temporarily blinded with black plastic patches over its eyes. It is measured and returned to the pen, where it is observed feeding. The observers note that while vision is a factor in the location of food, it is not as important as other sensory abilities. The last experiment involves the use of nigrescent dye and its effect on lemon sharks. A large section of a marlin is lowered into the shark tank; the sharks attack this meat until the nigrescent dye is injected into the water surrounding the marlin. The sharks are repelled by the dye and swim away.

Scope and Contents

Originally made for the WABC television series Expeditions, this film was taken at the AMNH Lerner Marine Laboratory on Bimini Island, Bahamas. Research and experiments involving fish are discussed and shown, including several experiments involving different types of sharks. A collecting trip to catch live sharks is also shown. Museum staff include Robert Mathewson and Margaret Tavolga.


  • 1961

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Not available through interlibrary loan. Contact AMNH Library Special Collections for terms of access.


1 Film Reel (20 minutes) : sound, color ; 16 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (20 minutes)) : sound, color ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy


Original format: 16 mm. print.



Insight, Inc., producer; Col. John D. Craig, producer and photographer; Stan Waterman, photographer.

Shark research, 1961
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
200 Central Park West
New York NY 10024 USA
(212) 769-5420