Predators are integral components of healthy marine ecosystems. They help maintain the systems that provide food, resources, recreation and income to our local communities.  In the Big Fish Lab we use a mix of techniques to understand the movements and behaviors of marine fish predators.



Understanding sharks and other large marine fishes

Have you ever wondered what species of sharks are swimming in the waters off Oregon or how much a White shark has to eat to fill its belly? Did you know that Salmon sharks, a cousin to White sharks, swim down from Alaska to exploit our salmon runs? And, Broadnose Sevengill sharks can hunt cooperatively to capture seals? 

In the Big Fish Lab at Oregon State University, we study the movements, behaviors, and energetics of large marine fish - notably sharks, mantas and tunas. Using a mix of electronic tags and hands-on field experiments, we work to gain insights into where they go, when they go, and why they go. We specialize in biologging tags, which allow us to hitch a ride with these animals and get a sneak-peak into their lives through a suite of sensors and cameras. By understanding these big fish and their role in our marine systems, we can better protect and manage our coastal ecosystems and resources. So have a look around and see the kinds of work we do.

Watch More Videos with The Big Fish Lab

  • Kelp Forest - Big Fish Lab video of a White shark swimming in a kelp forest. 
  • Manta tagging - Big Fish Lab attaching a tag to a reef manta.
  • Shark Data - Big Fish Lab showcasing shark tagging data by Taylor Chapple
  • Swimming Shark - Big Fish Lab biologging tag on a shark.

Six feet of social distancing doesn’t seem very much when you’re an 18-foot White shark. Even during the pandemic, we have been working to understand our ocean predators. In this photo (left), Dr. Chapple is attaching an electronic tag to this 18-foot White shark in California. This tag will tell us where she goes over the next 3-4 years, helping us understand how oceanographic changes may affect her behavior.

This 4.5-meter White shark has a camera tag on its dorsal fin.  This tag will record everything the shark sees and does over the next 48 hrs.  This helps us understand the role of these predators in our coastal marine ecosystems.

Just like we are curious about marine animals, marine animals are curious about us. White sharks often ‘spy hop’ like this 3.4-meter animal, in order to see what’s going on above the surface.

In the Big Fish Lab we attach electronic tags to many different large marine predators. In this photo, Dr. Chapple is attaching an electronic tag to this Giant Bluefin Tuna in Nova Scotia to understand more about its behavior and physiology.

Dr. Taylor Chapple leads the Big Fish Lab at Oregon State University. He studies sharks and other large marine predators around the world focused on their movements, behaviors and population dynamics. At OSU, he studies the sharks off our coasts and works with local communities to better understand sharks in Oregon.


Taylor K Chapple, Assistant Professor 
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife 
Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station (COMES) 
Oregon State University 
Hatfield Marine Science Center 
2030 SE Marine Science Drive 
Newport, OR  97365
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