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Sept. 30: Marine biologist presents the truth about sharks

FREDERICK, Md.—A marine biologist with more than two decades of higher education teaching experience will speak about shark ecology at Hood College on Sept. 30.

John F. Morrissey, Ph.D., will describe the diversity and varied biology found in sharks and rays from around the world during his talk, titled “The Truth About Sharks,” at 7 p.m. in Hodson Auditorium in Rosenstock Hall. He will also compare the ways in which these unusual animals are portrayed by the mass media with the realities of human-shark interactions as collected by scientists.

He will present sharks in a matter-of-fact way and teach the audience about aspects of shark ecology that might not be shown on TV.

Morrissey earned his doctorate in marine biology and fisheries in 1991 from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. After 16 years as a member of the biology department at Hofstra University, he moved to Sweet Briar College in the fall 2007 where he is now professor and chair of the biology department. He has been named Teacher of the Year at both Hofstra and Sweet Briar.

His research interests concern the natural history of deep-sea elasmobranchs—sharks, skates and rays—including descriptions of new species and investigation of their reproduction, feeding ecology, age and growth, and visual adaptations. He and his students have studied a new species of gulper shark from the Cayman Trench between Jamaica and Cuba and maintained a reproducing colony of chain cat sharks in the lab. He is co-author with Jim Sumich of “Introduction to the Biology of Marine Life,” a text used in undergraduate marine biology courses across the country.

Sponsored by the Hood College Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies, this event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Drew Ferrier at or 301-696-3660.