What inspired you to research sharks?
As a child growing up in Cape Town, South Africa, I was always passionate about the marine environment and was an avid surfer, diver and kayaker. After an attack on my local beach, I wash hesitant about returning to the water. I harbored this fear of sharks until I was given an opportunity to work with them at a field station in the Bahamas. Once I spent some time in the water and worked with them I was able to see how impressive they are, not the creatures of nightmares that are portrayed in the media. Through studying them I became aware of just how threatened sharks are globally and what we must do to conserve them.
Describe a great moment in the field.
One highlights is when we caught and tagged a 2.7m great hammerhead shark on a line at Glover’s Reef, Belize. The species is currently listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as it is highly valued for its fins.
To date, this is the only shark of this species I have caught. I remember pulling up to the line and seeing two fins break the surface, but assumed this must just be two separate sharks close together on the line. As we worked closer we realized that this was in fact the dorsal and caudal fin of one large shark and our Captain Norlan yelled “Hammerheeeeeeaad!!” When we got her to the boat, I was relieved to see she was in good condition. We worked her up quickly, tagged her and sent on her way!