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Taking a bite at the shark bite

February 1, 2013
Nova Southeastern University
Researchers are studying the bacteria of a shark's mouth in order to improve medical treatment for shark bite victims.

Tiger Shark swims by at Tiger Beach in the Bahamas.
Credit: iStockphoto/Amanda Cotton

Researchers from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) are conducting a unique scientific study of bacteria found in the mouths of sharks to develop better medical treatment methods for shark bites victims.

Scientists from NSU's College of Pharmacy working in collaboration with St. Mary's Medical Center will be gathering data from sharks captured during The Blacktip Challenge, a 72-hour South Florida fishing tournament to fish blacktip sharks from the beach. The tournament runs from Jan. 30 to Feb. 3.

In the last decade, Florida has consistently ranked amongst the highest worldwide in the number of shark attacks. The Sunshine State has accounted for about 25 percent of the approximate 100 incidents of reported shark bites a year.

Because of this, NSU researchers believe their findings are critical in helping the millions of ocean-goers each year that share the beaches and waterways with sharks. Their research, the first of its kind in the United States, could lead to groundbreaking research that will ultimately save lives from this tragedy.

"We are excited to gather scientific data from these incredible animals in order to learn more about the infecting bacteria from their bites and how to treat victims," said Nathan Unger, Pharm.D., an assistant professor at NSU's College of Pharmacy and the lead researcher on this project.

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