Why do you study sharks?
My parents encouraged a close relationship with nature, and much of my youth was spent romping through forests, exploring ponds and rivers, fishing, canoeing, and skiing. These close encounters with nature combined with my passion for literature—which allowed me to delve into the adventures of others and read about far-flung and magical places—that made me aspire to become a shark scientist. From a young age, my one and only goal was to study sharks. It did not matter what type or what size. At that age I did not even really comprehend how many species of sharks, skates, and rays existed. I have had many fantastic mentors along the way, all of whom have inspired and encouraged me to continue studying sharks. Sometimes, thirty years later, it’s still hard to believe I am living my childhood dream.
A great moment in the field:
Leading the expedition that resulted the scientific discovery of bull sharks in the Breede River in South Africa. This discovery helped rewrite existing literature on the species, describing a new maximum size (four meters total length) and previously undescribed habitat. Since this discovery, we have conducted four years of research on bull sharks in the river, including groundbreaking large-scale movement studies using satellite telemetry.