Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Marine Affairs and Policy (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Neil Hammershclag

Second Committee Member

Liza Merly

Third Committee Member

Maria Estevanez


Assessment of shark health can provide valuable insight into overall population health. In this study, immunological assessment tools are reviewed for their use with wild shark populations. Nurse sharks, Ginglymostoma cirratum, were non-lethally blood sampled from wild individuals in south Florida. Reference ranges are given for the first time for serum protein electrophoresis, which included five fractions that correspond closely with other elasmobranch species. Differences between serum and plasma may be negligible for protein electrophoresis, and therefore, plasma may be preferred in field settings. Reference ranges for other biometric and blood parameters were also established. The granulocyte to lymphocyte ratio for nurse sharks was found to be 1.17 ± 0.18. Protein isolation and identification techniques were used to determine if c-reactive protein (CRP) or related proteins might be used as immunological biomarkers. Protein isolation yielded two putative serum protein fractions of interest, a complement component C3 protein and a pentraxin domain-containing molecule. Future studies may allow development of antibody assays to biomarkers such as C3 and CRP to effectively measure these proteins in shark blood samples from wild individuals. Use of these biomarkers may be examined in combination with other immune health parameters to assess the health of wild shark populations and relate these to ecological conditions in the environments they inhabit.


Immunology; Shark; Protein Electrophoresis; Biomarker; C-reactive Protein