Welcome to the personal web site of Dr. Jeffrey C. Carrier, Professor Emeritus of Biology at Albion College.
Dr. Jeffrey Carrier became a faculty member at Albion College in 1979. He retired from Albion College in December, 2010. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Miami in 1974. Dr. Carrier also holds an appointment as an Adjunct Research Scientist with Mote Marine Laboratory (Sarasota and Summerland Key, FL). He now serves as a consultant, providing public lectures on a variety of topics related to his shark research and south Florida ecosystems, and markets his underwater and wildlife photography for his company, Cirratum Productions, LLC.
Dr. Carrier was the Biology Department’s Physiologist and taught classes in General Physiology, Pathophysiology, Marine Biology, Medical Endocrinology, and the Biology of Elasmobranch Fishes. He also participated in the introductory biology sequence, teaching labs and lecturing in Cell and Molecular Biology. Outside the Biology Department, he team-taught Art and the Environment as a first-year seminar course.
His primary research interests center on studies of aging, growth, migration, and reproductive biology of nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum) in the Florida Keys. His studies with long-time colleague Harold L. “Wes” Pratt of Mote Marine Laboratory document the courtship and mating behaviors of nurse sharks, and his work has been featured on numerous television shows.
The Biology Department has long been committed to faculty/student research. With the Biology Department’s Geneticist, Dr. Ken Saville, Carrier, two Albion College students, and Wes Pratt, published a paper in 2002 revealing multiple paternity in litters of nurse sharks. Additionally, a paper written with former student, Dr. Nick Whitney (Class of 2000) and Wes Pratt, examining reproductive behaviors in whitetip reef sharks (Triaenodon obesus), appeared in the December 2004 issue of Animal Behavior, and a second paper examining three-dimensional accelerometry as a tool for characterizing mating activity in nurse sharks appeared in Endangered Species Research in February, 2010. Another recent paper published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (October, 2007) was published with Carrier and former student Derek Burkholder (Class of 2004) and documented changes in shark populations through time in the Florida Keys.
Carrier’s first book, a comprehensive review of the phylogeny, zoogeography, physiological processes, and ecology and life histories of sharks, skates, rays, and chimaeras, Biology of Sharks and Their Relatives, co-edited with Dr. Jack Musick of the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences and Dr. Mike Heithaus of Florida International University, was published by CRC Press, LLC (March, 2004). The book was awarded a 2004 Choice Award by the American Library Association. From the A.L.A. announcement: “Choice editors base their selections on the reviewer’s evaluation of the work, the editor’s knowledge of the field, and the reviewer’s record. The list was known as Outstanding Academic Books until 2000. The new name reflects an increase in reviews of electronic products and Internet sites. In awarding Outstanding Academic Titles, the editors apply several criteria to reviewed titles:
overall excellence in presentation and scholarship
importance relative to other literature in the field
distinction as a first treatment of a given subject in book or electronic form
originality or uniqueness of treatment
value to undergraduate students
importance in building undergraduate library collections”
Carrier has been a longtime, active member of the American Elasmobranch Society (AES), having served as Secretary, Secretary-Editor, and a member of the Board of Directors for multiple terms. He completed two terms as President of AES at the end of 2007 and currently serves as a member of the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors.
Carrier has maintained a longtime affiliation with the Newfound Harbor Marine Institute (NHMI) at Seacamp where he served as Program and Facilities Director before coming to Albion College. He also served as a member of the Board of Directors until 2010. An environmental education/marine science facility located on Big Pine Key in the Florida Keys, NHMI has provided logistical support for Carrier’s Florida Keys studies for more than 30 years. Numerous Albion College students and graduates have completed internships at NHMI and many have served as staff members.
Carrier and his students have appeared in 17 shows produced for network and cable television, ranging from National Geographic Explorer and Discovery Channel specials to Florida Public Television documentaries and segments for Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures and FOX Television’s Wild Animal Moments series. His most recent collaboration has been with the remote imaging laboratory of the National Geographic Society and Dr. Mike Heithaus of Florida International University. These projects resulted in the production of an episode for the National Geographic Television series Crittercam Chronicles.
In addition to his studies of shark reproductive behavior, Carrier has been collaborating with the National Geographic Society’s Remote Imaging Laboratory to utilize Crittercam, an animal-borne video and data recording system, as an adjunct to studies of courtship and mating behaviors. A Crittercam carried by a 256cm (8.4 feet) male nurse shark during the 2001 pilot study is shown above as the large object attached below the first dorsal fin. A small VEMCO® Ultrasonic Transmitter, the smaller, red, cylindrical object below the second dorsal fin, is also used to aid in tracking these animals.
National Geographic On-Line joined Carrier and Pratt in the field for a week in June, 2002, and articles featuring their field study are featured on Geographic’s On-Line website (Geographic On-Line stories). This study is part of an on-going collaboration between Albion College, Florida International University, and the National Geographic Society’s Remote Imaging Lab, and was supported in part with funding from NOAA’s Sea Grant National Strategic Initiative Program, the W.W. Diehl Trustees’ Professorship, and Hewlett-Mellon Faculty Development funds from Albion College.
When away from Albion College, Carrier enjoys diving and underwater photography and is an avid fly-tier and fly fisherman. He spends (not nearly enough) time fly fishing the trophy trout streams of northern Michigan and enjoying the solitude of his cabin in the north woods. He is often in the company of his wife, dive buddy, and first mate, Carol (shown holding a juvenile nurse shark in the photo above and photographing the tagging and placement of a Crittercam on a nurse shark ), his faithful chocolate labs, Britony and Norman (shown below) who both passed away in 2011, and his sometimes faithful Harley-Davidson.
Dr. Carrier is a veteran, having served in the United States Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve from 1964-71. He continues to work with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary in the Florida Keys (Flotilla 13-03 Big Pine Key) and in Alpena, Michigan aboard CG255005, a 25′ Defender Class vessel (“Response Boat – Homeland Security”) used for Search and Rescue and Marine Assistance by the Coast Guard Auxiliary in Alpena.