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About the Shark Lab


The Shark Lab is one of the largest acoustic telemetry labs on the west coast. We have over 100 Vemco VR2Ws omnidirectional acoustic receivers, a VR4 underwater omni-directional Iridium-linked acoustic receiver, and a VR2C-cabled acoustic receiver. We have 3 VR100 ship-bourne acoustic receivers with directional and omnidirectional hydrophones and 2 RJE DPR diver-held acoustic receivers.

The Shark Lab has a temperature regulated 90 liter Loligo flume respirometer with fiber optic oxygen probe system for swimming kinematic and metabolic rate experiments.

acoustic receiver acoustic receiver
flume respirometer flume respirometer

Stereo-video equipped autonomous hexcopter

The Shark Lab has commissioned the construction of a stereo-video camera equipped hexcopter that can be controlled via radio-controlling station or programmed to fly transects. The stereo-cameras allow for measurements of sharks regardless of altitude or shark depth.



The Shark Lab has access to all Department vessels including the 26' D.R. Nelson (Parker with twin 150 HP Yamaha engines, Seriola (22' TwinVee with twin 70 HP Yamaha engines), Gray Whaler (17' Boston Whaler with 40 HP Yamaha engine) and 13' aluminum jonboat (6 HP Yamaha engine and electric trolling motor).

D.R. Nelson Seriola
Gray Whaler jonboat

Ship access

The Shark Lab has access to the RV Yellowfin run through the CSU Ocean Studies Institute and Southern California Marine Institute. We have used this vessel in the past for offshore projects and multi-day projects around the Channel Islands.

RV Yellowfin


Semi-wet lab (HSCI 116)

The Shark Lab is the only lab space immediately adjacent to the Marine Lab and the semi-enclosed outdoor tank bay. The Shark Lab has 4 work stations for students and worktop space for field research gear preparation and minor dry laboratory research. We have a 500 gal. (closed-system) polyurethane tank (5' diameter) tank in the lab for holding animals for research. There is "on-demand" seawater outlets and compressed air throughout the lab space. There is a separate dry lab space housing lab computers, dissection scope and electronics.

500 gallon tank semi-wet lab semi-wet lab semi-wet lab office semi-wet lab office semi-wet lab semi-wet lab
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Semi-enclosed outside lab space (HSCI 121a)

The Shark Lab has immediate access to the 1200 sq ft semi-enclosed outdoor tank bay, which has 10,000 gal recirculating system including chillers, protein skimmers, and cartridge filters. We have one 1200 gal (8' diameter), one 900 gal (7' diameter), and two 500 gal (5' diameter) polyurethane tanks for holding gamefishes, sharks, skates and rays. Additional tank space is available for experiments.

semi-enclosed outside lab semi-enclosed outside lab

Dive facilities

The Shark Lab has access to the Department of Biological Sciences Dive facility. We have 14 scuba tanks (aluminum and steel) and a new compressor and bank system.

dive facility, wetsuits, buoys, tanks dive facility, compressor

About Dr. Chris Lowe

Chris Lowe in the Shark Lab

Dr. Chris Lowe
Professor, Marine Biology
Director of the Shark Lab
California State University, Long Beach

Dr. Chris Lowe is a professor in marine biology and director of the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), where he and his students work with acoustic and satellite telemetry techniques to study the movement, behavior and physiology of sharks, rays and gamefishes.

Dr. Lowe earned his Bachelor of Arts in marine biology at Barrington College in Rhode Island and a Master of Science degree in biology at CSULB. In 1998, he achieved a doctorate in zoology, studying bioenergetics of juvenile hammerhead sharks, at the University of Hawaii.

In 1998, he returned to CSULB to teach marine biology and oversee the Shark Lab, which was founded in 1966 by Dr. Donald R. Nelson, a pioneer in the development and use of acoustic telemetry to study sharks. It has been Dr. Lowe's goal to maintain the history of innovation Dr. Nelson established. For the last ten years, he and his students have been studying the baby and juvenile white sharks of Southern California and have greatly contributed to the field of knowledge for this enigmatic species. In addition, recent research by Dr. Lowe and his student team has focused on the development of underwater robots for autonomously tracking sharks and gamefishes. He has garnered several academic awards, including CSULB's 2008-2009 Outstanding Professor Award and 2012 Impact in Research Award.

As the climate and the environment continue to change, Dr. Lowe has become adept at speaking to media about how fluctuations in water temperatures and weather patterns have affected ocean life. He has appeared in many articles and on TV and radio broadcasts, including the PBS/BBC special "Big Blue Live", "TODAY", "Al Jazeera America", "CBC News", Newsweek, KNX Radio, the Orange County Register and the Long Beach Press-Telegram, just to name a few.

Dr. Lowe grew up on Martha's Vineyard, where he spent a majority of his youth fishing and diving the waters around Cape Cod. He comes from a long line of New England fishermen and whalers and believes a career focused on the ocean environment was inevitable.


The California State University Long Beach Shark Lab has had a long and rich history in the area of elasmobranch research.

The Shark Lab was established in 1966 when Dr. Donald Nelson joined the faculty at CSULB as part of Marine Biology program. Don's commitment to the study of sensory biology and behavior of sharks was instrumental in furthering our understanding of these animals.

The CSULB Shark Lab, through the direction of Don Nelson produced over 50 scientific publications and trained 21 Masters and 1 Ph.D. student during his 30-year tenure. Many of the research projects conducted by the CSULB Shark Lab ventured to locations like Tahiti, Enewetak Atoll, and Baja, Mexico with funding from the Office of Naval Research and National Geographic Society.

Unfortunately, Don passed away on March 7, 1997 after a long battle with melanoma skin cancer. Dr. Christopher Lowe, one of Don's former Masters students was hired as Don's replacement in 1998. Chris took over the CSULB Shark Lab and keeps the legacy going. We invite you to enjoy a pictorial history of elasmobranch research at the CSULB Shark Lab. For more information about current research at the CSULB Shark Lab check out the Research pages.

Shark Lab circa 1970 Don Nelson tagging silky shark Dick Johnson observing horn sharks in tanks horn shark swimming through the activity sensing bars preparing for a dive gray reef sharks circling a hydrophone speaker at Enewetak Dick Johnson towing shark observation board at Enewetak Observer laying on s.o.b. Tim Tricas holding open the jaws of a large tiger shark Jeff Landsman holding a pop-up radio/acoustic transmitter blue shark with a pop-up radio/acoustic transmitter at the surface Don Nelson with a scalloped hammerhead shark off El Bajo Seamount, La Paz Don Nelson showing off the SOS II, Shark Observation Submersible, at Enewetak James N. McKibben tracking gray reef sharks at Enewetak Nelson and Klimley viewing video tapes of hammerhead schools Smith and McKibben running experiments to test chemical repellents Johnson, Stull and Nelson conducting field tests in the Catalina Channel Sisneros, Nelson, Fox and Clark in the CSULB Shark Lab The renovated CSULB Shark Lab under Chris Lowe's management Chris Lowe with a tagged gray reef shark and acoustic monitor at Bikini Atoll Marcotte conducting her electro repulsion experiments in Hawaii Royal measuring the metabolic rates of round stingrays Papastamatiou measuring the gastric pH of a juvenile scalloped hammerhead shark Chris Lowe, Brad Wetherbee, and Carl Meyer tagging tiger sharks Brad, Josh, Chris, and Gwen on Midway Island Shark Lab out doing a beach seine for round stingrays Hoisington and Hardy measuring and tagging a stingray
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