Greenland "Jurassic Sharks" featured talk by George Benz

Giant, blind sharks cruise the dark, frigid waters beneath the thick, polar sea ice, where they often are often plagued by small creatures that blind them.

George Benz, the director of the Tennessee Aquarium Research Institute and an authority on marine fish parasites, will visit Tennessee Tech University on March 26 and talk about his expertise with Greenland sharks.

Most Greenland sharks have been blinded by copepods, parasitic animals that dangle from the sharks' eyes. The good news is Greenland sharks have an acute sense of smell which helps them find foot, and the dangling parasites may act like lures to attract food.

Benz, who is also the Tennessee Aquarium's chief research scientist, shared his collaborative Greenland shark research with Discovery Channel audiences during Shark Week 2000's "Jurassic Shark" program. In 1996 and 1999, Benz traveled with a team of scientists, underwater photographers and filmmakers to study the sharks. National Geographic sponsored the excursions and featured the story in its September 1998 issue.

For his Tennessee Tech presentation, Benz will present a slide presentation of his Arctic adventures and talk about the intricate relationships that may link sharks, seals and polar bears in an environment that is much more complex than it first appears.

Benz will explain how contaminates in the local neighborhoods might someday make their way to the Arctic and into Greenland sharks. He will also talk about his dreams of using a nuclear submarine to learn more about the mysterious sharks.

The presentation, free and open to the public, will be in TTU's Pennebaker Hall, Room 128. For more information, call Brad Cook at 372-3194.