Biology of large marine vertebrates


3 CFU (36 hours)

Biology of Elasmobranchs

Students will be introducted to the study of elasmobranch biology and ecology and how these traits can impact species conservation and management.  Through a series of lectures, students will gain insight into the biological and ecological traits that make sharks, and their relatives, the skates and rays, unique. Students wil learn the different research techniques used to investigate these species and how knowledge can be used to inform management.



  • What is an elasmobranch? Diversity, Introduction to external biology Denticles, electro detection, olfactory, lateral line, sight, teeth
  • Introduction to internal biology: Circulation, thermoregulation, Immune system, Brain, Respiration, Digestion.
  • Internal biology continued: Reproduction and associated nursery areas and behaviours
  • Introduction into spatial ecology: Nursery habitats, Ontogenetic shifts, diurnal migration
  • Spatial ecology continued
  • Research Techniques: including Citizen Science
  • Research Techniques: Acoustic telemetry and archival data
  • Research Techniques: including challenges of temporal regions and deep-water species
  • Management: Marine Protected Areas
  • Management: Fisheries, international legislation (Cities, Convention on migratory species).
  • Case studies
  • Ethical considerations of working in the wild

Biology of sea turtles

Biology of marine mammals

Students will be introducted to the study of marine mammals biology and ecology. Main focus of lectures will be the general principles determining distribution, sociality, reproduction of marine mammals, as well as specific characteristics of orders and species.



  • Classification and evolutionary history of marine mammals
  • Distribution and habitat use
  • Hunting and feeding strategies
  • Reproductive strategies
  • Sociality
  • Communication, with focus on sound production
  • Uniqueness of species


Dr Jesus tomas

Dr. James Thorburn

Dr. Annalisa Zaccaroni