September 13th, 2018 - I first heard about the University of Miami's Shark Research and Conservation team back in high school. I remember reading about the work that Dr. Neil Hammerschlag and his team were doing and found the entire process fascinating. Fast forward 6 years and I am on their research boat, camera at my face, bobbing up and down on the platform at the back of the boat where 4 other team members work up an adolescent bull shark. Fin clippers, pliers, scalpels, syringes, and more tools are being passed around, measurements are being called out and recorded, and I am amazed at how swiftly the whole workup is, and at how gently and carefully the students handle the shark.
In just two trips alone so far, I've learned more about sharks than I ever have watching the Discovery Channel. I've learned the many methods of tagging and tracking different species of sharks, and why it is so important to our ecosystem to keep track of this data. I've learned that every shark has its own personality - some are moodier than others and some make the workup a piece of cake.
Still one of the best parts of these trips so far is seeing guest citizen scientists lay their eyes on a shark for the first time. The amazement and excitement in their faces when they walk up to it and feel it represents a boundary breaking between humans and marine life and could potentially encourage one more person to support the conservation of sharks.
I've already learned so much in two trips -- I can't even imagine what else awaits in the future trips to come. I’ve always had a soft spot for sharks, so to be learning from these experts in the field firsthand is an opportunity I am extremely grateful for. Thank you to the SRC team for trusting me to tell your guys’ story through my eyes and through my lens.