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.
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.
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.
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.
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.