Briefly can you describe the focus of your research and the species you work on?
I am defining the migration, critical habitat, behavior and ecological role of the south Pacific Blue shark (prionace glauca) using satellite tags.
Justification of this research is that we know extremely little about this highly utilized species of shark. It is estimated that their exploitation for shark fin and meat may be exceeding the maximum sustainable yield on a global scale. The blue shark is the most abundant, widely and deeply distributed shark of all shark species meaning its ecological role is likely an extremely significant one. With the unknown nature of population sizes, critical habitat use and sustainability, its ecological value is being put at risk.
In your opinion, how can people help save sharks?
By becoming educated on what sharks really are and what they do for the marine environment. Then go do a sustainable and respected ecotourism dive, so you can actually see one in real life in the wild. It will change your perception instantly, from fear to fascination, and you will, as I and many others have, become a shark addict. As Baba Dioum famously said, “In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.”
How did you get involved in shark research and what advice would you give those interested in studying them?
I followed my passion. That was animals and the ocean. I surfed, dived, spearfished and freedived and so I wanted to know how the environment I utilized so much worked. I worked hard at school and did subjects that intrigued me. The biology, ecology and geographies, lead into the harder but necessary statistics, GIS, physics, etc. but they all helped explain this world. Because of passion, I did well, and straight A’s led me to university for the privilege of specializing in what I wanted to know more about. I valued up-skilling, so I got my PADI, my skippers certificate, first aid, commercial dive cert, which enabled me to do my own field work. I learned mechanics through broken engines at sea, I learned forecasting by surfing and boating, I did a research internship in South Africa, and thats were I addicted to sharks but only because I was able to function in their world. I had the skills to work at sea, and that is the fundamental difference between people who want to study sharks, and those that can. Education is key. It enables the dream.
Please provide links to any of your research you would like to showcase.