Shark Tagging with an International French Highschool

By Julia Whidden, RJD Graduate Student

C’était un vendredi fantastique à bord le navire du Divers Paradise avec nos nouveau amis d’une école secondaire en la France! (Translation: It was a fantastic Friday on board the Divers Paradise boat with our friends from a high school in France!)

The RJD team met at Crandon Marina at 8 am to begin loading up at Divers Paradise, hopeful that the stormy weather forecast for the day was exaggerated. During our round of RJD and student introductions, we learned that only 3 of the 28 students had ever seen a shark before, yet they were all eager to learn as much as they could about shark biology!

We set out on the water towards Safety Valve under a grey sky. Nearly immediately, the sky opened and poured down on us – but luckily this weather didn’t last. As we approached our field site, we set two barracuda-baited fish traps near where our drum lines would be deployed to look at the fish communities in our sampling area. These traps were left there until the very end of the day. Next, we set the first 10 drumlines, which was followed by collecting environmental data like water temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen. In the hour of soak time required for the first set of lines, Dr. Neil Hammerschlag briefed our high school group about what to expect if we caught a shark, how they would be involved, and how our research impacts shark conservation and management. The high school students pulled the first 10 lines to find absolutely no sharks! We set the second set of drumlines, enjoyed a brief lunch, and then headed back to work. New RJD Interns Julia, Chris, and Dana had just finished talking about how they hadn’t yet seen a hammerhead shark when our first line of the second set came up with just that! The RJD team sprung into action as the students watched from the top deck. This female great hammerhead measured 2.18 m long (7’1” feet) and was processed off the back of the boat as opposed to being brought up onto the platform. Dr. Neil secured the hammerhead’s head, RJD Intern Chris inserted the water pump into the shark’s mouth, and Captain Eric held onto the tail as RJD graduate student Jake collected a blood sample from the caudal vein and RJD Intern Julia inserted a dart tag into the shark’s dorsal fin. We quickly took a few measurements before releasing this female. As nearly all of the students on board had never seen a shark before, they were ecstatic that their first was a majestic and mystical hammerhead!


We pulled up two more empty lines before catching a beautiful 1.48 m female blacktip shark! Five students were quickly equipped with their respective tools for helping sample the shark, including two nictitating membrane reflex tests, cutting a tissue sample from the dorsal fin, tagging, and measuring the shark. This female was soon released, and the line was re-baited with barracuda. The remaining 6 lines of the second set all came up without a shark, which gave our visiting students plenty of time to ask questions and engage with our interns. In an attempt to please the shark gods and increase our catches, three visiting students took this time to make up an epic “sharky dance”, which they later performed to Dr. Neil! Their dance had some success, as the second line our third set caught a beautiful 1.40 m male blacktip shark – our second blacktip for the day! The students helped us work this shark up, and their teacher, Mr. Alexandre, even participated by performing the second nictitating membrane reflex test. After this male was released, the students got a workout by pulling up the remaining 8 lines, which had all caught nothing. Next, we finished up our day by checking the fish traps that we’d set in the morning, to find only one fish waiting! This fish was a blue striped grunt measuring approximately 15 cm, and it was released back into the water safely as we headed back to shore.


All in all, we had a fantastic day on the water with the International French high school, even with the dreary weather. After catching and working up one great hammerhead and two blacktip sharks, I think it’s safe to say that the students all had an exhilarating and educational day of shark research. We hope that they enjoyed the rest of their stay in Miami, and that our research trip together has inspired them to become environmental stewards in their own communities. Merci, les élèves!

Shark Tagging with Pine Crest School

By William Evans, RJD Intern

I woke up on Thursday morning and saw that it was slightly overcast and drizzling. For more people, this would be a sign of a gloomy day inside but for me and the rest of the RJD crew, it was the perfect set up for a day of shark tagging. The crew met at Crandon Park at 8 AM, along with high school students from Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale. As we boarded the boat, reviewed some boat safety and pulled out from the marina, the skies began to clear up and the sun was shining.

Our trip leader for the day, Christian Pankow, began to speak to the students about our fishing methods and why we use the specific gear that we do. While Christian was talking, the rest of the team began to set up the gear, bait the hooks, and deploy the drums. After the 10th drum was deployed, we waited to let the bait soak in the water and allow time for sharks to get on the hooks. While we were waiting, Shannon Moorhead, an undergraduate student at UM, and I saw a blacktip breach on the 6th drum! We knew it was a good sign for how the rest of the day was going to go. Because of our sighting, we went to the 6th drum first and sure enough, there was a blacktip shark on the line. That was only 1 of 4 blacktips from that days trip. Of the four, the last blacktip that we pulled in was 1.92 meters, slightly over 6 feet, which Christian said was the “first or second largest blacktip” that he’s ever seen!


A closeup image of a blacktip eye and ampullae of lorenzini.

The Pine Crest students were able to interact with each shark by assisting the team in collecting data. The student tasks were checking the presence of the nictitating membrane on the eye with a squirt of water, measuring the shark, taking a fin clip, and tagging the shark. These opportunities allow students to not only interact with sharks but to participate in meaningful research and will hopefully light a spark in them to pursue science or at least be more knowledgeable about sharks importance to the ocean ecosystem. It was also beneficial to the students to be able to witness another graduate student, Robbie Roemer, be able to collect blood samples from all of the blacktip sharks.


The RJD team secures the shark as graduate intern, Hannah Calich, assists a Pine Crest student in tagging the blacktip shark.

Towards the end of the day, we also caught a small, adult blacknose shark in addition to the 4 blacktips that we caught before.  Because of its size, it was placed on the deck for the work up and the students on board were able to get a chance to see the differences between the blacktips we caught before and this new species. We made it back to the dock to unload and clean the gear for the next trip going out the following day. Aside from all of the sharks, not having to remove the drums from the boat was my favorite part of the day! Although it was an exhausting day, that was the most amount of blacktips that I have personally seen on a trip and even though they are not my favorite shark, they are still beautiful animals. Every tagging trip makes me more excited than the next because I come on the boat more equipped with knowledge than the time before!


Trip Leader, Christian Pankow, and undergraduate intern, Casey Dresbach, secure this blacknose shark as graduate intern, Robbie Roemer, draws blood for analysis.




Shark Tagging with Westminster Christian School

By Hannah Calich, RJD Graduate Student

Last Friday the RJD team was joined by the fabulous students and teachers from Westminster Christian School for another day of shark tagging!

The Westminster students, teachers, and the RJD team after a great day on the water

The Westminster students, teachers, and the RJD team after a great day on the water

The RJD team met at Crandon Marina at 8 am to begin loading up Divers Paradise. Despite the hurricane over the Bahamas, Miami’s coastal waters were calm and the weather was great, so we were eager to get out on the water. Once everyone was on the boat the RJD team introduced themselves, our trip leader, Emily Nelson gave everyone a briefing, and we set off!

Once we got to the site, the RJD team deployed a baited fish trap as part of a new project we’re working on to learn more about the fish communities at our tagging sites. Once the trap was deployed we set 10 drumlines, took some environmental data, and had some lunch while we let the lines soak. After the hour-long soak we began checking our lines. Our first line came up empty, but when we got to drum # 2 we felt a familiar tug on the line and everyone sprang into action. Our first shark of the day was a 171 cm male blacktip shark!

A Westminster student gives the bait a kiss for good luck!

A Westminster student gives the bait a kiss for good luck!

Once we tagged and released him we headed over to drum # 3 where once again we felt a familiar tug on the line. Our second shark of the day was a 174 cm female blacktip shark! What was particularly interesting about this girl was that she was a recapture! We checked our records and determined that we originally tagged her back on November 1st, 2013! Back in 2013 she was 169 cm and has grown to 174 cm since then. We get really excited about recaptures because they are relatively rare and give us a lot of interesting data about how these animals are growing, where they are living, and what they are eating!

A Westminster student helping collect a fin clip from one of the blacktips

A Westminster student helping collect a fin clip from one of the blacktips

Once we re-tagged and released her we went to drum # 4, where once again there was a shark on the line! On drum # 4 we caught another 174 cm female blacktip! She had only been on the line for a few minutes so we decided to surgically implant an acoustic tag in her abdomen as part of our Urban Shark Project, which is studying how sharks use highly urbanized environments.

Once she was tagged and released we went back to checking and rebaiting our lines. Unfortunately, the next 16 lines came up empty. However, something was clearly eating our bait and since the first few lines had been so busy we knew it was only a matter of time until we caught another shark, so we decided to set 5 more lines.

While we were waiting for those lines to soak we decided to pull up our fish trap and work-up the fish we caught. We ended up catching about 25 fish from approximately 6 species! Once the fish trap was back on the boat we went to check on our drumlines and found that we’d caught one last shark! This time we had caught a large (240 cm) male nurse shark! The RJD team secured him while the students went to work collecting data. Within a few minutes the workup was complete and he was on his way again.

RJD intern Julia Whidden takes measurements of a fish caught in our fish trap

RJD intern Julia Whidden takes measurements of a fish caught in our fish trap

In the end it was a very successful day because we caught 4 sharks! We caught 3 similarly sized blacktips (one of which was a recapture!) and a large male nurse shark. In addition to doing our usual work-up we also deployed an acoustic tag and gained new data on the local fish communities! Thanks again for all your hard work Westminster, it is always a pleasure to go out with you guys. I can’t wait until the next trip!

Our last shark of the day, a 240 cm male nurse shark!

Our last shark of the day, a 240 cm male nurse shark!


Shark Tagging With Steve Brodie Charter

By Alison Enchelmaier, RJD Intern

Friday morning couldn’t come fast enough. It felt like forever since I had been on a tagging trip and I was chomping at the bit to get started. The crew arrived an hour early to load gear and everyone seemed to be in a genial mood as we hauled drumlines and bait. Today our new intern, Julia Whidden, was joining us for her first trip! Just as we were loading up, we were joined by our group of UM citizen scientists.

Dr. Neil Hammerschlag explaining RJD’s shark workup procedure

Dr. Neil Hammerschlag explaining RJD’s shark workup procedure

We headed out to Stiltsville, a series of stilt houses that reside offshore in Biscayne Bay, and began to set our gear. We added a new procedure to our protocol on this trip, fish traps. Our fish traps are large, square, portable structures made of mesh meant to catch fish without a rod and reel. We use these traps to see what fish live in the areas where we catch sharks. We placed two fish traps into the water and let them soak while we fished for sharks. After the traps were released, we set our drumlines into the water and let them soak. While we waited, Dr. Hammerschlag explained the importance of shark research and conservation and our citizen scientists learned about the tasks they would be participating in on the trip.

The RJD crew sets up gear

The RJD crew sets up gear

After an hour, we returned to check on our lines. Early in the day, we don’t often get a shark on the first line so imagine our surprise when we caught a shark on our first line, and it was a blacknose to boot! Most blacknose sharks are small; adults can grow to about 4 ft long. We don’t catch them often, so this find was a real treat! There was no time to spare as we had another shark on the second line, this time a 172 cm (~5.6 ft) female blacktip. Our citizen scientists helped the team measure, gather blood and fin samples, and tag the shark before releasing her back into the water. The next shark we encountered was another blacktip, female as well at 163 cm (~5.3 ft).


Citizen scientist checks the reflexes of a blacktip shark by squirting water in its eye.

Citizen scientist checks the reflexes of a blacktip shark by squirting water in its eye.

As we pulled in the last line the sound of thunder indicated it was time to head back to shore. On the way back to the dock, we retrieved the fish traps and identified the fish we caught. Between both traps there were five fish in total and three different species of bony fish. The species we caught were planehead filefish, a saucereye porgy, and two lane snappers.

All in all, it was a wonderful day! Thank you to our citizen scientists for joining us on a great trip!



Shark Tagging with Riviera High

By Rachel Skubel, RJD Intern

Last Sunday we had a fin-tastic trip with Riviera High, wherein we were fortunate enough to come across three unique species of sharks just a couple miles off of South Miami Beach – including a breathtaking 4-meter great hammerhead. This was our first secondary-school trip of fall 2015, and we were excited to get the students involved!


When we set off in the morning, conditions were perfect for fishing offshore in deeper waters. The water was relatively calm, and the current not too strong. This meant we were able to head ‘offshore’ into deeper waters – around 80-100 ft.

Riviera High were fantastic participants today, eager to jump in and help us to deploy the first series of ten drumlines.


During the 1-hour soak-time, we explained how we work up the sharks we manage to catch. The students are able to help us out with gathering a lot of this valuable data that goes toward the >10 projects our lab is working on. The students also helped us measure environmental data, namely temperature, dissolved oxygen, and salinity, which can help us study sharks’ preferred environments, and how their physiology might be affected by changing temperatures, for example.


The first 10 lines, and the next set after that, proved to be lamentably lacking in sharks. One can never lose hope, however, and we were treated to a beautiful sandbar shark on the very first drumline of set #3! These sharks are lovely intelligent animals, and always exciting to encounter and work with. The students helped us to take measurements and tag the shark before we released the animal back into the ocean.

4_Sandbar 5_Sandbar

As part of our workup, a stress-test is performed just before releasing the shark by spraying seawater into it’s eye to look for a ‘nictitating’ response – basically a protective eyelid that comes up, and lets us know that the sharks reflexes are operational:


Not long after this sandbar shark’s departure, the veritable highlight of the day arrived. After a tellingly tough-to-pull line, we were all amazed to see an amazing, massive great hammerhead shark at the surface. Our talented team secured the shark off the edge of the platform, and we were able to take measurements from this staggering individual.7_HammerSurface

We estimated the length at 13 feet, or 4 meters, and as you can see, this individual had excellent condition (basically, fatter shark = better condition), so this was very encouraging to see! Even though great hammerheads are listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), not much is known about why they go where they do, and how fishers can best avoid interacting with them, so the more we can learn the more we can learn to progress their protection.


Luckily for us, there was more to come in the shape of a very impressive nurse shark – this animal took a crack team of RJD team members to secure for the work up. This species is really quite effective at conserving energy by remaining rather placid until we take it on board for the work up. The nurse shark practices ‘bucchal pumping’ which means it can pump water over its gills without needing to move forward (like ‘ram ventilating’ shark species) – which also means we don’t need to put a pump its mouth while we measure, tag, and take samples.


At the end of this back-loaded day we were thrilled by the sharks we encountered, and very excited to have captured data from these magnificent animals. As the fall season progresses, it will be great to work with more fantastic groups, and learn more about the sharks in our area!

11_UM (1)

Gulliver Field Studies in Marine Science Students have Amazing Day Shark Tagging with the University of Miami

By Frank Gissoni

On June 19th 2015, we were greeted at the Diver’s Paradise boat at Crandon Marina by Captain Eric and the University of Miami’s RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation team. Cap and the team went over some basic rules and procedures with us. Our special guest, fishing celebrity Peter Miller, host of the TV show Bass to Billfish and proud Gulliver parent arrived at the dock with a large fresh Amberjack that he caught for our trip while filming an episode the day before.  The RJ Dunlap Team briefed the students and the rest of our group. Our team included Luis Ceballos, whose daughter was in the class, and Miller Drive Registrar Miriam Vizoso.  Our tasks would include; buoy and bait deployment, measuring the animals, taking a fin clip for future DNA analysis, and tagging the animals. We were also charged with testing the reaction of the shark’s nictitating membrane (eyelid) to determine whether the animal is under any stress during the procedure!  If any shark displayed any stress during the tagging and data collection process the team released the animal immediately.  The safety of the team and of the sharks was paramount and all information the RJ team convey was intensely absorbed by the students.  Before we knew it the engines roared and we were off.

Cruising along at idle speed through the Manatee Zone just outside of the marina, our optimism was palpable.  After all, we all had reasons to be optimistic, there were clear blue skies, light wind, calm seas and we were armed with the freshest bait anyone could ask for.  As we headed north past Government Cut, signs of life were everywhere.  Birds hovered over schools of bait, flying fish took to the air as we passed, and even a free jumping sailfish playfully danced for us in an amazing acrobatic display. Finally we had arrived at the location. We were about 3 miles (4.8KM) offshore in about 150 feet (45M) of water, when we began setting our lines. We were using a drum line setup. First the baited hook and line went in followed by a 35 pound weight and lastly the buoy.  The students stepped up one by one to deploy the lines, after all why not get the youngest and strongest involved first.  We placed our lines one by one, a line of golden Sargassum Seaweed guided our path like our own yellow brick road.  As the team was deploying buoy number nine the Cap called down from the flybridge.  We had a shark already on the number eight buoy.  The tone was set for the day.  There indeed was a shark, a beautiful female sandbar shark golden brown in color and about 7 feet long.  Everyone got to work. The students and the UM team worked with the speed and efficiency of a Nascar pit crew, measuring, recording data, taking samples and finally implanting a spaghetti tag.  In just a few moments the shark was safely off on her way.  The specialized circle hook, designed to catch in the jaw of the shark, did its job as usual and the shark with a powerful sweep of her tail splashed the team at the boat’s stern as she swam off.  We barely had time to high five and celebrate when the Cap yelled down again, “buoy number six!”  Off we went.  This time it was a large bull shark, a powerful stubby nosed dark grey boy 7.5 feet (2.3 m) long.  This was what we were looking for, a perfect candidate for a sonic tag.  This time only the RJD team worked on the shark.  The tag about the size of a thumb drive was implanted in the shark’s abdominal cavity, and after a few stitches he was on his way.  This shark was going to be the first specimen of a new research project studying the movement of local populations of bull sharks.  We told the RJD team we would be interested in adopting this shark through their adoption program and naming him Gulliver, so we could all watch Gullivers’ travels.

The learning opportunities and cross curricular ties would be enriching for Gulliver Schools.  Our day continued at the same frantic pace it began with. Shark after shark was brought onto the boat, another male bull shark, and six more female sandbar sharks all about the same size were caught.   Each of these sharks displayed tooth rakes on their heads and sides, the tell-tale signs of mating.  These bite marks are the result of sort of a shark embrace and the female is anatomically prepared for this with her extra thick skin. What a day!  Muscles were sore, skin was sunburned, gallons of water had been consumed, eight sharks tagged and safely released. The day could get no better, then it did. As we began retrieving the last of the setups, one had a heavy shark on the line.  As we got the shark closer we could believe our eyes.  It was a very large great hammerhead shark.  The whole boat exploded into action.  Hammerhead Sharks are particularly sensitive to stress so this shark had to be tagged quickly. Members of the RJD team grabbed hold of the sharks’ body after a safety lasso was secured and the Gulliver team grabbed on to the RJD Team to keep them from going overboard.  One member of the RJD team got in the water with his GO Pro and recorded the event.  It was controlled mayhem.  This shark was to be satellite tagged.  The tag was quickly affixed to the dorsal fin of the shark and measurements were taken.  The Cap yelled down from the bridge, “My boat is 13 feet across the stern.”  We could all see the shark was longer!  “Ninety three centimeters across her head from eye to eye” someone yelled out.  “Over three feet wide, and her dorsal fin is almost as tall!”  We were all amazed!  After a few minutes she was ready to go.  Pat from the RJD Team was already in the water. He swam her off and gave her a little push, she faded from our view into the cobalt blue water and our experience with the great ocean predator was over.  We had accomplished our mission.  On the way back to the dock we reflected on our day.  Eleventh grader Niles Miller called the day “Epic!” Miriam Vizoso claimed, “What an amazing day for the students!” Jasmin Thernhurr said, “This was a once in a lifetime experience.”  Freshman Paula Ceballos gushed, “Best field trip ever Mr. Gisonni.”  I could not have agreed more.


Shark tagging with IMPACT

by Melissa Soto, RJD intern

It was a hot and sunny Thursday morning as I drove down to Key Biscayne to meet the rest of RJD at the marina. Once all the RJD members arrived, we filled the boat up with the equipment and waited for our spectators. As soon as they stepped off their school bus, IMPACT was filled with enthusiasm and energy.

As the boat took off from the marina, RJD members explained what IMPACT would do for the day. They would help RJD in the work up of the sharks, which consist of measuring different lengths, testing for nictitating membranes, tagging the shark, gathering a fin clip sample and more!

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 9.43.14 AM

Our day started off a bit slow but then we caught a Nurse Shark. The shark was 127 cm so the work up was done very calmly and quickly. Within minutes the shark was back in the water swimming freely.

Next we reeled in a Black Tip shark. This shark was also quite small. We had the students come up and help collect our data research. Most of these children had never seen a shark before. This moment created so much excitement and joy in their lives.

Our next two sharks were Great Hammerheads. The first one was 250 cm and the second was 202 cm. The work up was done in a timely fashion and both sharks were released unharmed.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 9.46.21 AM

Overall, this was an incredible day. IMPACT is always a phenomenal group to have on our trips, as they are always ready to go and see what’s out there. We cannot wait to have you on our next trip!

Meet Our Team: David Shiffman

1. What’s your role in the lab?
My interdisciplinary Ph.D. research focuses on the ecosystem role of sharks in coastal south Florida, and how different groups of stakeholders perceive that ecosystem role. I also run our social media accounts, help train our interns, and serve as a trip leader on shark research expeditions. You can learn more about my skills and background here


2. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m originally from Pittsburgh, I went to Duke for my undergraduate education, and I got my Masters in marine biology at the College of Charleston. When I’m not working, I enjoy playing board games or video games with my fiancee, or playing with our puppy. My favorite shark is the sandbar shark. I studied newborn sandbar sharks for my Masters research, and now I get to study the adults, like this one below!


3. How did you get interested in marine biology and conservation?
I’ve been interested in sharks as long as my family can remember, and no one can really remember what started it. Most kids seem to go through a shark thing or a dinosaur thing, and I actually had both. I got SCUBA certified as soon as I was old enough, and spent my summers at marine biology camp in the Florida Keys, where I later worked as the shark biology instructor.


4. What’s your favorite part about working in the lab?
In addition to all of the wonderful people I get to work with, I really enjoy the lab’s outreach efforts. On every research trip, we bring a group with us. That means that every time I go out tagging sharks, I get to see what I do through the eyes of someone who has never seen a shark before!

Meet Our Team: Emily Rose Nelson

1. What’s your role in the lab?
Hey guys, I’m Emily! I’ve been working with the Shark Research Team at the University of Miami for about 4 years now. During my time with the RJ Dunlap program I have been involved with a number of projects. I have been the shark satellite tracking coordinator since 2013. I am responsible for keeping track of all our satellite tagged sharks. Nightly, I receive emails that indicate which of our sharks have transmitted throughout the day. Using a number of different databases I can then examine the location and movement of animals. From here, the tracks are updated on our website so the public can view the animal’s movement in near real time. The information we receive from these tags is used for numerous research projects going on in the lab to further enhance shark conservation. My current research involves looking at the movement patterns of tiger sharks and comparing it to a number of different morphological variables. In particular, we are trying to determine what exactly (i.e. tail size, body condition, reproductive status) determines how far, how fast, and where an individual will move.


2. Tell us a little about yourself.
I received my Bachelor of Science Degree in Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in 2014 and will be starting work towards my Masters of Science in Marine Affairs and Policy with Dr. Hammerschlag in Fall 2015. Outside of the lab, I can probably be found tutoring (I love working with kids) or playing with my dogs and cats. I love avocados, water skiing, concerts, Blackhawks hockey, and driving across the Rickenbacker Causeway.


3. How did you get interested in marine biology and conservation?
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to spend my life working with the ocean and the amazing creatures within it, forcing me out of my land-locked home town of Chicago.


4. What’s your favorite part about working in the lab?
Working with the shark team at RSMAS has been one of the best experiences of my life. The adrenaline rush that comes after successfully completing a work up on a 350 centimeter tiger shark in the Bahamas is indescribable. Running statistical tests on a new set of data and finding a significant result is super exciting. However, the best part about being a member of this lab is the team I am surrounded by. It is an honor to work alongside some of the most talented and passionate people in the field. I am lucky to be able to learn something new from my colleagues every day and even luckier to call them some of my best friends.


Meet Our Team: Pat Goebel

1. What’s your role in the lab?
As a master’s student in the lab, I am in charge of conducting my own research for my thesis and leading shark tagging expeditions. My research interests are behavioral ecology, predator/prey interactions and conservation. My current research primarily focuses on understanding some of the important ecological patterns of predators in an inshore tropical estuary, which serve as a critical nursery area for the coral reef-associated fishes in the region.

Pat Goebel Pic3 Shark week

2. Tell us a little about yourself.
I am originally from Cleveland, OH but moved down to South Florida about three years ago to attend graduate school for marine biology. When I am not studying or tagging sharks you can find me doing some kind of outdoor activity. I love the ocean and spend a lot of my time beneath it or around it. A new hobby of mine is paddle boarding. I get to exercise and be on the water at the same time. I always bring a mask and snorkel when ever I go out, you never know what you might see.

Pat Goebel Pic 4 Shark weekd

3. How did you get interested in marine biology and conservation?
One of my early memories from my childhood is walking along the beaches of the Outer Banks while vacationing with my family in North Carolina.  We stumbled upon a large commercial gill net that had been left on the shore.  The net contained numerous trapped live fish that the fishermen had deemed unworthy of bringing to market. My siblings and I hustled to free the bycatch, which included several small sharks. Ever since that day, I have been completely intrigued by marine biology.

Pat Goebel Pic2 - Shark week

4. What’s your favorite part about working in the lab?
One of my favorite parts is that I get to work on several projects that are actually making a difference in the world. Being able to hopefully prevent species from going extinct is the ultimate goal. The best part is that I get to do this while working with some very passionate people whom I call my friends.

Pat Goebel Pic1 - Shark Week

5. Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
The thought of jumping into shark “infested” waters is what many people consider a nightmare. For me, it is a dream come true, a once in a lifetime chance. If you get the chance, take it, there is no reason to fear sharks. We fear what we don’t know or understand. This “unknown” is a lure to discover. The unknown is not what to be afraid of, it’s only when the unknown becomes known that one can decide whether to be afraid or not – Markus Peterson

Lastly, as tool to reach the public, I created an Instagram account (@sharkman__). I use this account to broadcast pictures and videos of sharks and other marine life, which have been obtained doing field research. My goal is to change the negative perception of sharks and the ocean. I encourage you to follow along.