Snowbird, Utah may not be the first place you think of when you think about sharks but late in July, the mountainous region hosted the annual professional conference on shark and ray research. Despite struggling a little bit with the altitude, our team from sea-level Florida was really excited to be attending. There is something advantageous to meeting with people face to face to talk about your work, get feedback, explore possible collaborations.
Despite being in awe of the cooler, crisper climate and swaying fir trees and snow-capped mountains, we got down to business quickly and attended presentations that ran from 8 am – 5 pm each day and covered each presenters work on topics that included population genetics, habitat, movement, fin development, fisheries, diet, conservation, policy, etc. We heard from undergraduate and graduate students, professors, independent researchers, policy-makers, and conservationists. Hannah presented our collaborative approach to collecting data in the recreational shark fishery and Kaitlyn presented her poster on the initial results from our study on great hammerheads, the first ever to estimate the post-release mortality in the shore-based fishery. We were able to chat with senior scientists experienced with the types of questions we are asking, hints on different tweaks we could make to our equipment to get better results and validation and encouragement from federal policy-makers and scientists that our work was important and needs to continue.
It was an incredible trip for all of us and we walked away with new collaborations and an even stronger sense of purpose. Our interns were introduced to every student and professional we knew and attended every social event with us, gaining unique and valuable career experience. We are incredibly proud of how they handled what can be an overwhelming situation!
"I am so proud of the work we are doing and what we are contributing to conservation. Each member of the team has done exceptional work and we are beyond grateful for our supporters across all communities! Thank you so much! - Hannah Medd, ASC President
And we would like to thank the numerous supporters who donated and bought t-shirts which all helped cover the costs for our team to attend this important event. Your support has propelled us forward in our mission to better understand and therefore protect sharks and we THANK YOU!