Meet Sharks4Kids Ambassador Chloe Prayon
Chloe is currently getting her master’s degree in biology at Florida Atlantic University, where she also completed my bachelor’s in biology in 2017. She teaches undergraduate biology labs at FAU and also works at Manatee Lagoon, and education center focused on the Florida manatee. She is a a certified scuba diver and also likes freediving when she has time off. Sharks are her favorite animal to dive with!
Chloe has been volunteering with us for over a year and we are thrilled to have her on the team. Chloe does school visits as well as education events!
1. What is your favorite shark and why?
This is a tough question because I have so many… but I would have to say the tiger shark! They have beautiful patterning when they are born. I love watching this pattern change as they move into adulthood. They grow to be so large and are still such graceful swimmers.
2. What is one species of shark you would like to see/study/swim with?
The great hammerhead. The only time I have seen a hammerhead in the wild was on a dive where for a split second, a scalloped hammerhead came by and then immediately swam away. Because their appearance is so unique, I would love to see one in action while it was hunting.
3. Can you tell us a little about your work with sharks?
Since my shark dives are recreational, the work I have done with sharks comes mainly from my courses and my volunteer work. I have taken an elasmobranch biology class that allowed us to stay on a liveaboard boat and learn how to set longlines for shark tagging. I have volunteered with the shark lab at FAU and have had hands on experience tagging sharks and learning how to set drum lines. I’ve learned a lot from getting to have hands on experience and I look forward to finishing my degree and gaining more skills in the field.
4. What is one of the coolest things you've seen while studying/diving with sharks?
I have two moments. One was my first shark dive in the Bahamas. I was in crystal clear Bahamian waters, sitting in a patch of sand surrounded by a seagrass bed. It had started raining before we got in, so I just remember looking up and seeing sharks circling above me and the raindrops hitting the ocean surface creating thousands of ripples. I will never forget the feeling of finally living out my dream that I had since I was 5 years old. My second favorite moment was a dive I did with lemon sharks in Jupiter, Florida. We were freediving with at least 14 lemon sharks and a few bulls. The bulls were super skittish compared to the lemons. The lemons kept coming right up to me to investigate me and my camera. They got closer to me than any other shark had, so it was a super exciting experience.
5. Why do want to teach kids about sharks?
I became interested in sharks when I was in kindergarten. I found a book in my schools’ library on sharks, and it had so many cool pictures and facts about all these different shark species. Every week I would check out the same book, and then come back the next week and renew it. I did this so many times that they finally told me I couldn’t check it out again until some other students had the opportunity to read it. Since I was living in Virginia at the time, I didn’t get much exposure to sharks other than the books I would read or the shows I would watch. Unfortunately, some of these shows made sharks out to be these big, scary, man-eating predators. I want to teach kids that while these animals are apex predators and need to be respected in their environment, they are not out to get people. Bringing awareness to kids who might only be aware of these misconceptions will benefit shark conservation efforts in the future. There is so much to learn and there are so many incredible species that have unique personalities, making them all so unique to dive with.
6. What is one piece of advice you would give younger students who are interested in working with sharks?
It is a lot of work, but if you are passionate and willing to work hard, we need you! We need sharks, and sharks need people like us to educate the masses and protect them.