Wildlife Forensics is an activity developed by Learning Undefeated to help students explore forensic science and DNA analysis.
Shark fin s are in incredible demand in Asia, costing hundreds of dollars a pound to be used in soups. In order to collect fins, poachers will catch sharks and de-fin them, often throwing the harmed sharks back into the water where they are unable to swim properly or survive. Due to the greatly dwindling shark populations, the U.S. government protects certain species, like the great white, and has made it illegal to hunt and trade them. Unfortunately, bringing those who illegally kill great white sharks to justice is not an easy task. It is often impossible to visually identify what species a shark fin belongs to, especially when the fins have been dried and processed.
In this lab, students will compare the DNA fragment(s) in a sample of DNA from a package of fins to great white and porbeagle shark DNA controls to determine if your unidentified fin is from a great white shark.
Students will be able to
- Students will analyze DNA extracted from unknown shark fins in order to determine if the fins were harvested from a protected species of shark.
- Describe how the illegal shark trade is effecting the great white shark population
- Classify a shark as a great white or not based upon the PCR results and gel electrophoresis