This week the SSTP are proud to present a series of guest articles by Dr Edward Farrell. Dr Farrell is the chairman of the Irish Elasmobranch Group, Co-regional Vice Chair of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group and member of the European Elasmobranch Association Scientific Committee; in a series of articles for tagsharks.com Dr Farrell will discuss his work on the identification issues surrounding smooth-hound in the north-east Atlantic.
Many anglers around Scotland fish for and tag smooth-hound so we are sure you will find this article extremely interesting and informative! In this first article, Dr Farrell gives a short bio and discusses what led him to study smooth-hounds in such depth.
Introduction to Dr Edward Farrell
I have always loved angling and was very interested in marine biology so I decided to do a BSc in Zoology in University College Dublin, which I completed in 2005. After that I spent a year travelling around the world and deciding what to do next. During that year I spent some time in South Africa doing an assistantship at the White Shark Trust, which got me hooked on sharks. When I returned to Ireland I started a PhD in UCD on the biology of starry smooth-hounds.
Since completing this in 2010 I have been based at the Irish Marine Institute doing a research fellowship on boarfish, which is a pelagic shoaling species and the target of an industrial fishery. I have also kept up my involvement with elasmobranch research through the Marine Institute’s porbeagle satellite tagging project and through my various positions as chairman of the Irish Elasmobranch Group, Co-regional Vice Chair of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group and member of the European Elasmobranch Association Scientific Committee.
My interest in smooth-hounds dates back to one of my friends catching one when we were younger. We didn’t know what it was and when I eventually looked it up I found that there were apparently two species found in Irish waters but there were lots of issues about how to tell the difference between the species.
I didn’t think too much about it at that stage but when we were coming up with ideas for a PhD project one of my supervisors suggest looking at the biology of smooth-hounds. Once I investigated them a bit further I realised how little was actually known about this relatively large species. So that was it and I spent the next 3 and a half years studying and fishing for them.
The results of the project were quite exciting and unexpected. I hope that they will be used now to push forward conservation and management measures for smooth-hounds and also increase the awareness of the species. As anglers know they are a brilliant sport fish and we should do everything possible to ensure that they are there for future generations to enjoy also.