Virginia Institute of Marine Science

John A. Musick

Professor of Marine Science, Emeritus

Email : [[jmusick]]
Phone : (804) 684-7317
Office : Fisheries Science Lab 139
Department : Fisheries Science

Research Interests

My vertebrate ecology and systematics programs include several diverse research areas which deal with aspects of the ecology, conservation, systematics, and morphology of marine vertebrates. In addition, I serve as head of the Virginia Sea Turtle Stranding Network, and Co-chair of  the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Shark Specialist group.

Current Projects
  • To determine species composition, age, size structure, sex ratio, reproductive biology, food habits and population dynamics of shark populations in the Chesapeake Bight.
  • Ecology, distribution, abundance, and behavior of sea turtles in Western Atlantic.
  • Fish systematics program based on the Scientific VIMS Fish Collection (18,000 catalogued lots and 100,000 specimens of preserved fishes).
  • Comparative ecological studies of finfishes such as flounders, anchovies and pipefishes and comparative studies of fish community structure from estuaries to the deep sea.
  • Management strategies for long-lived, vulnerable marine animals.
  • Conservation of endangered marine fishes
Selected Publications
  • Goldman, K. J. and J. A. Musick (In Press). Biology of the Salmon Shark, Lamna ditropis. In: Sharks of the Open Ocean. E. K.Pikitch and M. Camhi (eds.) Blackwell Scientific.
  • Grubbs, R.D. and J.A. Musick (In Press). Spatial delineation of summer nursery areas for juvenile sandbar sharks, Carcharhinus plumbeus, in the Mid-Atlantic Bight. American Fisheries Society. Bethesda, MD.
  • Grubbs, R.D. and J.A. Musick C. L. Conrath, and J. G. Romine. (In Press). Long-term movements, migration, and temporal delineation of summer nurseries for juvenile Carcharhinus plumbeus, in the Chesapeake Bay region. American Fisheries Society. Bethesda, MD.
  • Musick, J. A. . Sandbar Shark, (In Press). Carcharhinus plumbeus. In: Fowler, S.L., M. Camhi, G. Burgess, S. Fordham and J. Musick (eds). Sharks, rays and chimaeras: the status of the chondrichthian fishes. IUCN/SSG Shark Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland Switzerland, and Cambridge, UK.
  • Bowen, B.W., A.L. Bass, S.M. Chow, M. Bostrom, K.A. Bjorndal, A.B. Bolten, T. Okuyama, B.M. Bolker, S. Epperly, E. Casella, D. Shaver, M. Dodd, S.R. Hopkins-Murphy, J.A. Musick, M. Swingle, K. Rankin-Baransky, W. Teas, W.N. Witzell, and P.H. Dutton. 2004. Natal homing in juvenile loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) Molecular Ecology 13: 3797-3808.
  • Musick J.A. and J.K. Ellis. 2005. Reproductive Evolution of Chondrichthyes. pp. 45-79. In: Reproductive Biology and Phylogeny of Chondrichthyes: Sharks, Batoids and Chimaeras. William C. Hamlett. ed. Science Publishers, Inc. Plymouth, UK.
  • Gedamke, T., W.D. DuPaul, and J.A. Musick. 2004. Observations on the life History of the Barndoor Skate, Dipturus laevis on Georges Bank (Western North Atlantic) e-journal Northwest Atlantic Fisheries.
  • Goldman, K.J., S.D. Anderson, R.J. Latour, J.A. Musick, 2004, Homeothermy in adult salmon sharks, Lamna ditropis, Environmental Biology of Fishes 71, 403-411.
  • Kulka, D.W., J.A. Musick, M.G. Pawson and T.I Walker. 2004. Report of Symposium. Elasmobranch Fisheries: Managing for Sustainable use and Biodiversity Conservation. e-journal Northwest Atlantic Fishery Science. Vol 35:
  • Musick, J.A. 2004, Management of Sharks and Their Relatives (Elasmobranchii). Chapter 1 pp.1-8. In: Elasmobranch Fisheries Management Techniques. J. Musick and R. Bonfil, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation. Singapore: 370pp (electronic publication available at
  • Musick, J.A. 2004 Shark Utilization. Chapter 14 pp.223-236.In: Elasmobranch Fisheries Management Techniques. J. Musick and R. Bonfil, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation. Singapore: 370 pp. (electronic publication available at
  • Musick, J.A., M.M. Harbin, L.J.V. Compagno. 2004. Historical Zoogeography of the Selachii Chp.2, pp 33-78. In: Biology of Sharks and their relatives. J. Carrier, J.A. Musick. And M. Heithaus, eds. CRC Press.
  • Musick, J.A. and J.K. Ellis. 2004. Constraints on Sustainable Marine Fisheries: A Look at the Record. pp. 45-66. In: Sustainable Management of North American Fisheries. Knudsen, E.E., D.D. MacDonald, and Y.K. Muirhead, eds. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.
Current Students
  • Currently enrolled: M. Fagan, L. Pace, J. Smith.
  • Currently enrolled: J. Romine, A. Horodysky (co-chair), C. Cotton, D. Portnoy, P. McGrath, T. Gedamke (co-chair), V. Saba, C. Conrath, D. Ha, R. Pemberton, K. Mansfield.
Past Students
  • Graduated: J. Romine, 2004; W. Dowd, 2003; J. Ellis, 2003; E. Seney, 2003; R. Pemberton, 2000; C. Conrath, 2000; R. Kraus, 1998; W. Jones, 1997; M. Terwilliger, 1996; L. Ayres, 1995; S. Moein, 1994; H. Banford, 1993; M. Rybitski, 1993; J. Brown, 1991; S. Bellmund, 1988; R. Klinger, 1988; R. Siegfried, 1988; B. Bowen, 1987; M. Armstrong, 1987; G. Delaney, 1986; S. Smith, 1986; T. Sminkey, 1986; J. Hoff, 1985; G. van Housen, 1984; M. Nammack, 1982; M. Lutcavage, 1981; J. Gartner, 1980; R. Middleton, 1979; E. Lawler, 1976; D. Byrne, 1976; G. Sedberry, 1975; C. Cooke, 1974; L. Pushee, 1973; C. Wenner, 1972; D. Markle, 1972; M. Haines, 1971.
  • Graduated: K. Goldman, 2002; D. Grubbs, 2001; T. Orrell, 2000; S. Bartol, 1999; W. Coles, 1999; H. Banford, 1998; J. Gelsleichter, 1998; D. Nelson, 1996; J. Desfosse, 1995;L. Daniel (co-chair), 1995; E. Grogan, 1994; E. Heist, 1994; T. Sminkey, 1994; R. Teixeira, 1994; C. Tabit, 1993; J. Keinath, 1993; D. Hata, 1993; C. Baldwin, 1992; J. Ferreira, 1991; J. Luo, 1991; C. Monterio-Neto, 1990; R. Byles, 1988; S. Szedlmayer, 1988; R. Middleton, 1986; T. Munroe, 1986; J. Colvocoresses, 1985; R. Rosa, 1985; M. Anderson, 1984; H. Carter, 1984; R. Crabtree, 1984; W. Raschi, 1984; K. Sulak (co-chair, Un. of Miami), 1982; G. Sedberry, 1980; L. Mercer, 1978; C. Wenner, 1978; L. Chao, 1976; D. Markle, 1976; K. Able, 1974; J. McEachran, 1973.
Courses Taught/Teaching
  • MSCI 666: Ichthyology, 5 credits, instructor: 2004 and every year since 1970.
  • MSCI 664: Conservation Biology, contribution lecturer, 2000-2004.
  • MSCI 698: Deep Sea Biology, contribution lecturer, 2000-present.
  • MSCI 501: Core Course Marine Science Fundamentals, contribution lecturer, 2001
  • MSCI 618: Marine Fisheries Science, 3 credits, team taught: 1992-present.
  • MSCI 5__: Numerous graduate problems and topics courses since 1969.
  • MSCI 6__: Numerous graduate problems and topics courses since 1969.
  • MSCI 6__: Advanced Biological Oceanography, 3 credits: 1971-81 (alternate years); (no longer offered).
Faculty/Student Awards
  • 2002, Excellence in Fisheries Education Award, American Fisheries Society.
  • 2001, Outstanding Faculty Award, State Council on Higher Education in Virginia
  • 2000, Distinguished Service Award, American Fisheries Society "You are recognized for your contributions toward providing understanding of the risks to long-lived marine fish species. The importance and timeliness of your contributions are bringing important new visibility and exposure to AFS, reinforcing the Society's relevance in conserving valuable marine resources."
  • 2000, Distinguished Researcher Award, School of Marine Science, College of William and Mary
  • 1999, Marshall Acuff Chair in Marine Science, College of William and Mary.
  • 1997, Thomas Ashley Graves Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching, College of William and Mary.
  • 1994, 1995 Nominee PEW Fellows Program in Conservation and the Environment.
  • 1992, Conservationist of the Year Award from Virginia Beach Anglers Club.
  • 1991, American Elasmobranch Society Distinguished Service and Leadership Award.
  • 1989, Elected National Fellow, Explorers Club, New York.
  • 1985, Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, "For contributions to ecology and zoogeography of marine vertebrates, conservation of endangered species, and graduate education in marine science."
Professional Membership
  • American Fisheries Society; member 1961-present; Endangered Species Committee, 1994-2002; Chair, Endangered Marine Fishes Committee, 1996-present.
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science; member 1967-present; Elected Fellow, 1985.
  • American Elasmobranch Society; Board of Directors, 2000-2005, 1985-1996; President-elect, 1990; President, 1991; Annual Meeting Chair, 1992; Chair, Conservation Committee, 1994-present.
  • American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists; member 1962-present, Annual Meeting Chair, 1975; Board of Governors, 1975-76; Endangered Species Committee, 1994-present.
  • Atlantic Estuarine Research Society; member 1968-present.
  • Ecological Society of America; member 1967-present.
  • Fifth International Fisheries Congress, Editorial Board: 2004-2005.
  • International Sea Turtle Society; Board of Directors, Feb 1991-2000; President-elect, Feb 1993-94; President, Feb 1994-95; Annual Meeting Chair, 1995.
  • Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries; Editorial Board, 1999-present.
  • Society for Conservation Biology; member 1987-present.
  • Southeastern Fishes Council; member 1975-present.
Collaborative/Interdisciplinary Efforts
  • Jan 2004 - present ASMFC. Endangered Species Committee
  • Jan 2002 - present - NMFS/USFWS Recovery Team for Loggerhead Sea Turtles
  • April 1999-present; ASMFC Scientific Technical Committee for Shark Management
  • Jan 1997-present; Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council Scientific Advisory Committee for Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass.
  • Dec 1997-present; MAFMC Dogfish Advisory Committee.
  • June 1997-present; Co-chair, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Species Survival Commission, Shark Specialist Group.
  • June 1997-present; Virginia State Coordinator for Essential Fish Habitat Issues (VMRC, NMFS, MAFMC).
  • July 1996-present; ASMFC Sturgeon Technical Committee
  • Jan 1996-present; Member of Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries Reptile and Amphibian Endangered Species Committee.
  • Jan. 1996-present; Member of VIGIF Endangered Fishes Committee.
  • Jan. 1995-present; USFWS Atlantic Sturgeon Advisory Committee for Chesapeake Bay.
  • Jan. 1995-2003; USFWS Scientific Advisory Committee for the Shortnose Sturgeon Recovery Plan.
  • May 1994-present; NOAA/NMFS. Select Scientific Advisory Panel for Shark Management.
  • June 1990-present; International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Species Survival Commission, Marine Turtle Specialist Group, member.
  • September 1987-present; Ad-hoc advisor to Virginia Marine Resources Commission on Marine Fisheries Management
  • October 1986-present; Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council Scientific Advisory Committee for Shark Management
  • May 1979-present; National Marine Fisheries Service Sea Turtle Stranding Network, Regional Coordinator for Virginia.