Shark Fest II

Shark Fest was amazing! Today was such a cool, interesting and fun day. All the major shark research groups and charities of the UK turned out for a shark filled day. One thing that surprised me was there was something for everyone, regardless of academic background. This event worked great as a public engagement event to raise awareness of shark conservation, and getting younger generations exited about not just sharks but conserving the marine ecosystem as a whole. Furthermore, shark fest had plenty to offer for academics, it was a great opportunity for undergraduates, graduates and even post grad students to network and give advice on how to get into shark research. I met so many talented and interesting science students, studying at various universities around the UK. I was able to ask current PhD students about their personal progressions from undergraduate student to a PhD student studying sharks. The event also gave me the opportunity to speak to organisations and charities who conduct research. Hopefully I have managed to sell myself enough to them, as a few people did tell me to contact them about ideas they want trying out. One example being attempting to get any DNA samples out of fossilized teeth, which personally I think would be so cool to try, as I have successfully extracted both mtDNA and nuclear DNA from modern shark teeth. I collected many business cards and leaflets and spent far too much money on a variety of sharky things, but I think a personal highlight was speaking to the non academic shark fanatics. Just hearing the passion people had for sharks, people who have not studied them but just have a passionate interest and healthy respect for these animals is something that really makes me happy. Especially as most people have a fear or even dislike of most shark species, which is usually due to media and just a limited understanding of these wonderful animals. It’s always great to see families, with young children getting really excited when learning more about sharks. Organisations like The Shark Trust, Sharks 4 Kids, The Gills Club, Wise Ocean, Shark Guardian, Shark Stuff (+many more) and of Course the hosts Fin Fighters can not be praised highly enough, the work these companies are doing to raise awareness, fund research and protect sharks and the marine ecosystem is truly inspiring. I can not wait to go to the next Shark Fest, and one year I would love to be one of the people running a stand or even giving a talk and hopefully inspiring the next generation of shark researchers.

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