I have had a life long interest in the marine environment that was fostered by my father, Earl Ebert, who retired as a senior marine biologist after a 32-year career with the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG). As a youth I spent my summers working at the Marine Culture Laboratory (MCL) that was operated by the CDFG. My father established the MCL facility at Granite Canyon, south of Carmel, California to develop innovative methods to culture various marine species. This gave me the unique opportunity to learn firsthand about the marine environment from an early age.
After completing an undergraduate degree at Humboldt State University, I enrolled at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) under the supervision of Dr. Gregor Cailliet where I began my formal research training. My thesis research on the life history of the sixgill (Hexanchus griseus) and sevengill (Notorynchus cepedianus) sharks along the California coast resulted in five publications in peer review journals. Upon completion of my Masters degree I applied for and received a National Science Foundation grant to attend the Second Indo-Pacific Fish Conference in Tokyo, Japan, where I presented a paper on my thesis results.
I applied for and received a bursary to do a Ph.D. in the Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Sciences, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa under the supervision of Dr. Leonard Compagno. My dissertation topic was a comprehensive worldwide study on the biogeography, biology, and taxonomy of cow and frilled sharks (Order: Hexanchiformes). During my tenure in South Africa I helped Dr. Compagno found the Shark Research Center, first at the J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology (now the South African Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity) that later moved to the South African Museum in Cape Town. It was during this time that we developed extensive research programs to study the offshore deepsea chondrichthyan fauna around southern Africa and a companion nearshore program. The results from these research programs have been published in several peer reviewed journals and a book entitled “Guide to the Sharks and Rays of Southern Africa” (Struik Publishers).
I conducted post-doctoral research at the Shark Research Center, South African Museum, prior to returning to California where I became involved in a start-up business venture in abalone farming. This private sector experience gave me considerable experience at starting, operating, and running a business. In 1997 the company conducted a Regulation ‘A’ initial public offering that at the time was the most successful internet public offering in North America. While working in the private sector I continued to conduct research in my spare time on chondrichthyans and publish those results.
My second book, published by the University of California Press in 2003, is a field guide to the “Sharks, Rays, and Chimaeras of California” (UC Press). The book includes nine species of chondrichthyans not previously reported in field guides to the California fauna. My third book on the “Biology of Skates” (Springer) is the first book dedicated to the biology of this fascinating group of fishes. Currently, I have several other book projects on chondrichthyans currently in progress.
My primary research expertise is in chondrichthyan biology, ecology, fisheries, and systematics, and abalone aquaculture, ecology, enhancement, and fisheries. I am especially interested in the ecology, life history, and habitat utilization of chondrichthyans within various ecosystems. I have participated on research cruises in the southeastern Atlantic Ocean, southwest Indian Ocean, and the Bering Sea collecting and studying the life history and systematics of chondrichthyans in these regions. I have also conducted chondrichthyan faunal surveys in Taiwan.
I am currently involved in several projects focusing on the life history (age and growth, reproduction, and feeding ecology) and systematics of chondrichthyans in the Bering Sea, eastern Pacific, Australia, Galapagos Islands, Philippines, southern Africa, and Taiwan. Most of these North American projects are being conducted in collaboration with several NMFS labs including the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, WA, Northwest Fisheries, Newport, OR, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Santa Cruz Lab, CA, and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Narragansett, RI, to study the life histories of numerous chondrichthyan species. Please check out the PSRC web site, Current Research and my web pages for more details on this research. Also, I am currently collaborating with researchers in southern Africa on several projects stemming from my earlier research on the chondrichthyan fauna of this region.
In addition to the business and research aspects of my career I have taught at several educational levels ranging from primary school through graduate level university courses, including a semester teaching English conversation to Chinese university students in Taiwan.
I have been involved with a variety of organizations including serving as the Business and Industry representative on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s Advisory Council (SAC), Chairman of the SAC’s Business and Tourism Activity Panel (BTAP), the IUCN Eastern North Pacific Shark Specialist Group, a board member of The Otter Project, and formerly as a board member of the California Aquaculture Association and US Abalone.