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 and their role in marine ecosystems.



Tune into the Shark Dissection: A Deep Dive INSIDE Sharks with the Big Fish Lab on Sat. April 9, from 1:15 to 2:00 pm with Taylor Chapple.


Understanding sharks and other large marine fishes

Have you ever wondered what species of sharks are swimming around 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 or that Broadnose Sevengill sharks can hunt cooperatively to take down seals?

At 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. 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 the role they play 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.

Have you seen sharks? 

We need your help with our scientific research. We want to understand the movements, behaviors and distribution of sharks along our coast. If you see a shark, catch a shark, or find a stranded shark, please report any information, pictures or comments on our website. Please contact us if you are willing to take samples.

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. Kyle Newton is a Research Associate in the Big Fish Lab. Kyle is a sensory and cognitive ecologist that uses machine vision and learning techniques to understand, monitor, and mitigate the impact that human activities have on the physiology and behavior of marine wildlife. He is particularly interested in how the electromagnetic field noise generated by offshore energy facilities impacts the foraging and navigation behavior of electrically and magnetically sensitive species, such as sharks, rays, skates, and decapod crustaceans. Kyle is an avid scuba diver, novice surfer, and all time professional cat dad.

Dr. Alex McInturf  is a CICOES postdoctoral fellow in the Big Fish Lab. Alexis interested in the movement and behavior of sharks and their relatives, and how these are influenced by biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) factors in the environment. She uses a combination of methods, including stomach content analysis, biologging, and spatial modeling, to explore these topics in a wide variety of threatened or data deficient species. Her current work in the Big Fish Lab focuses on the diet and habitat use of salmon sharks in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, and how that affects prey species (like salmon) in this region. She is also exploring the social lives of basking sharks in Ireland.

Jess Schulte is a PhD student in the Big Fish Lab. Jess’s research aims to understand fisheries as part of a larger cultural picture in the Pacific Northwest and contribute to critical outreach and engagement with the broader public. Combined with a variety of anthropogenic stressors, fisheries in this region have experienced significant drops in stock, followed by ecosystem effects and repercussions on local economies. Despite their often significant roles in local ecosystems though, large sharks have been conspicuously absent from modeling and management efforts in the region. Using biologging, stable isotopes, and stomach content analysis, Jess’s research will provide critical insights into the trophic ecology of an abundant apex predator in these marine ecosystems. Her project will determine how this predator maintains Oregon’s productive marine ecosystems from a quantitative and cultural lens and inform our management of critical fisheries through top-down interactions.

Josh Bowman is a Master’s student in the Big Fish Lab. Josh is investigating the physiology and behavior of sharks as they relate to predator-prey dynamics. As large predatory fish, sharks have few natural predators and therefore are typically not thought of as prey. However, predators of sharks do exist including killer whales and other sharks. Josh uses biologging methods, hormone analyses, as well as machine learning to better understand how sharks respond to their predators where they exist. His goal is to use his results to better understand the interactions among co-occurring marine top predators and their ecological consequences.

Braden Vigil is a third-year undergraduate student in the Big Fish Lab. Braden is currently investigating how depth of habitat affects vertical movement between Pacific Sleeper sharks and Greenland sharks.

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
Email Website | Instagram