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July 2022 Update

Written by Baylie Fadool

Jul 31, 2022

Full summer swing! The temperature is much hotter, the water is much calmer, and tourism is at an all-time high. This has meant lots of days on the water and lots of outreach near and far!

Alumni and New Friends!

The month kicked off with a visit from Randy Thomas, an intern from October-December 2021. He brought along his friend, Khalid Kareem, who is a defensive end for the NFL Cincinnati Bengals interested in learning more about marine research and conservation. He got to be in the water with sharks for the first time on this trip. His first and favorite sharks from the trip were Caribbean reef sharks. Dylan Baker, one of our station assistants, had his mom come and visit this week as well. It was a fun-filled weekend with lots of sharky activities and ocean relaxation.

Shark Con

We attended our first National Geographic’s Shark Con, an event at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. The adventure started by going to pick up our new fiberglass outreach nurse shark that we named Noodle from Gray Taxidermy. In addition to this, we got to take a tour of the facilities and see all of the amazing work that these artists are doing. We are very thankful to them for their hospitality and showing us around!

The event took place July 16-17th. Shark Con is an event dedicated to raising awareness about shark and ocean conservation, as well as sustainability. It raises money for ocean and shark conservation efforts, which are undertaken by the partners at Shark Con. There are over 150 vendors of shark and ocean related merchandise and a dozen nonprofits to engage guests and show them how they can get involved in saving the oceans. We had a booth at the event with a lot of new outreach equipment and decorations that Chelle Blais designed. On the first day, we led an activity where people could help us measure Noodle. Media Manager and Outreach Coordinator, Baylie Fadool, gave a presentation the next day on the history and research of the Bimini Shark Lab and received lots of amazing questions. We are so thankful to the organization team at Shark Con for all of their help along the way and welcoming us to their event with open arms. We met a lot of incredible people and got to see some familiar faces as well. We are already looking forward to next year’s event and meeting some more of you!

American Elasmobranch Society Meeting

The American Elasmobranch Society is a non-profit organization that seeks to advance the scientific study of living and fossil sharks, skates, rays, and chimaeras, and the promotion of education, conservation, and wise utilization of natural resources. Dr. Samuel Gruber, the Bimini Shark Lab’s founder, was the first president of the society and helped create it as a way for elasmobranch researchers and scientists to come together and share and discuss their work. Shark Lab President, Matt Smukall, represented us at this conference and gave a presentation on his tiger shark research for his PhD.

Community Involvement

We had a lot of visitors this month from collaborators to sponsors to tourists! We have started a partnership with a tourist company called Bimini Island Tours, and they brought their first few groups to the Shark Lab for the South Bimini portion of their tour. Costa Sunglasses, Rock the Ocean, and Shedd Aquarium also paid us a visit this month. It was also nice to see a few familiar faces and alumni.

Tours have been a great way to be able to connect with the community again. To expand our involvement in the community, we also hosted a community BBQ this month. We had quite a turnout, and it was great to see a lot of friends, neighbors, and new faces! Because we had so much fun and it was so successful, we are going to start incorporating these once a month into our schedule to continue connecting with the community and meeting new people.

Christmas in July

Sophia Gunther planned a whole Christmas in July day for us! The morning started by cutting down an invasive Australian pine tree and then taking it inside and decorating it and the rest of the lab with lights, garland, and stickers. She determined our elf teams for the day, which were our teams for all of the varying activities. A build-a-snowman relay was first, followed by a candy cane eating competition, and then a sugar cookie decorating contest. At the end of the day, we had a gift exchange and watched the Grinch. It was a fun day full of family bonding!

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