Meet Sharks4Kids Regional Ambassador Amie Williams
Amie Williams has already been busy with school visits and is joining our team as a representative in Scotland. She is currently doing her Master’s in ecosystem based management in marine systems at University of St. Andrews. We will be hearing a lot from Amie as she blogs about school visits and does are shark of the month blog. We are excited to welcome her to the team and to share her shark story with you. Stay tuned for more blogs from Amie and make sure to follow her on TWITTER.
1. How old were you when you saw your first shark?
I was actually 19 when I saw my first shark! I had been scuba-diving since I was 10 years old and was absolutely dying to see one in the wild, whatever the species. I had been on countless dives where you are “guaranteed” to see sharks, from hammerheads in Egypt to white-tip reef sharks in the Mediterranean, to no avail. Then I joined an internship program in South Africa and finally got a glimpse of my first shark- A GREAT WHITE!
2. What is your favorite shark and why?
This is a tough question… I love them all. I’m going to stick with the pelagic thresher shark. I remember the first time I clocked my eyes on one of these beauties and I was just in a complete trance with the shark! I thought seeing a great white for the first time was incredible but this was on a whole different level. Unless you see one, you really can’t grasp how incredibly huge that upper caudal lobe is!
3. What is one species of shark you would love to see in the wild?
I would love to see a long or short-fin mako. I just think they are incredible, especially the way their body is designed for speed.
4. Can you tell us a little about your work with Ninja Sharks?
I had contacted Dr Simon Oliver only 3 months prior to filming inquiring about the possibility to conduct research at The Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project for my undergraduate thesis. Acoustic Telemetry has been something I have had a massive interest in for a number of years now, so when Dr Oliver told me I could come across to tag and track pelagic thresher sharks for the first time ever with himself and Professor Thomas Grothues (Motz) I could never have let that opportunity slip away! So we headed out to The Philippines, where we made daily trip to Monad Shoal (a seamount due east of Malapascua Island). Here thresher sharks have been observed for years engaging in cleaner interactions, however we didn’t know anything more about the species! So part of the documentary was to find out what else these sharks were up to and how far they traveled on a daily basis but also to capture them executing their incredible adaptation of whipping their prey! It was an incredible experience. I am truly honored to be apart of it, even if I did mean I was chasing sharks in a few thunderstorms from time to time…
5. What made you want to become a marine biologist?
For me it was about doing something I loved. Since I was 10 I would bug my parents to go diving and snorkeling whenever we were abroad but I never knew you could have a carer in it. I took a year out between school and university and started searching jobs in the marine environment. A degree in Marine Science popped onto my screen and I knew from that moment on wards that is what I was born to do!
6. Why is shark science important for conservation?
Shark science is ultimately what leads to shark conservation. If we can understand how sharks behave; why they go to the places they do and during which times they are (roughly) present, we can then advice decision makers on the best pay to conduct their practices. Whether it be implementing no fish zones at certain times to minimalise bycatch or preserving essential fish habitats, shark science contributes to a healthier ecosystem.
7. Why do you believe shark education for kids is so important?
Educating kids about sharks is key to conservation success. Changing the public’s mind about Sharks is difficult when they have already made up their mind. However, educating young people in the truth behind sharks and helping them understand how vital they are to our survival can help eliminate fear and change perception.