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MICHAEL BORBOLLA

Florida International University

I am studying the correlation between total mercury levels found in juvenile bull shark tissues and their length and weight (body conditions). I am studying samples collected from Tarpon Bay Fla., Sabine Lake Texas, and San Antonio Bay, Texas.

Bull sharks are top predators of estuarine habitats during their juvenile stages, and most transition into marine habitats as they grow older. High levels of methylmercury (the biological form of mercury) have been linked to neurotoxicity in freshwater fish (Depew, et al., 2012). As a freshwater fish during its juvenile stages, it is important to study the effects of mercury on the body conditions of bull sharks due to their role as a top predator. Bull sharks are victims of mercury bioaccumulation, the buildup of mercury in organisms across trophic levels, and I expect there to be a significant correlation between total mercury content and their body conditions. My mentors are Laura Garcia and Dr. Kirk Gastrich.

“This internship is important because it gives students a chance to study the incredible and unique creatures found in the Florida Everglades. Having lived in South Florida all my life, working in the Everglades has always been a dream of mine, and I am now able to live that dream thanks to this internship and The Everglades Foundation.”