Irish Basking Shark Group on Elasmo Week

The Irish Basking Shark Group was recently featured on Elasmo Week. For the first time since COVID started, I was able to talk about my research. Swimming Head Productions did a fantastic job on short notice.

Because of the time zone (2 am in Ireland!) Alex Mcinturf and myself represented the IBSG in the Q&A.

Check out the other Elasmo Week videos here. And definitely start following Minorities in Shark Science, who came up with the idea to have a week dedicated to diverse shark species and diverse shark scientists.

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Water Quality Video

This is a video depicting water quality data mapping, which is conducted annually on the Potomac River by Chris Jones. I recorded this in the summer of 2019 and sat on the footage until quarantine had me missing field work. I filmed most of it one-handed, as I was also keeping time and writing data every four minutes. It was, to the say the least, a challenging way to film.

Ireland’s “Best Kept” Secrets

I recently wrote about my research for the Irish Basking Shark Project.

Famous for being the most Northern Point in Ireland, Malin Head has in recent years, seen an increase in tourism. This may be due in part because this location, historically known as Banba’s Crown, has embraced a more modern mythology as a landing site for the Millennium Falcon in Disney’s The Last Jedi (2017).

Thanks to the multi-generational popularity of Star Wars, there has been an uptick in tourism to an area previously visited for its beautiful coastlines. However, Malin Head has been hiding another secret, rarely advertised and, in my personal opinion, more interesting than being part of a feature film. Almost every summer, basking sharks will gather in the shallow coastal water surrounding the Irish Coast, and Malin Head is considered a “hot spot” for basking shark viewing in Ireland, as they gather in large groups there.

Read the rest here and be sure to follow IBSG on Twitter and Instagram.

I’m on Speak up for Blue

I was recently featured on an episode of Speak up for Blue, because in January I testified for HB913 before the Virginia House of Delegates Post Secondary and Higher Education Subcommittee.

I contacted my state delegate, Dan Helmer, in November 2019, because I was and am deeply concerned about the way my university mishandled my Title IX complaint against a fellow graduate student. As I describe in the podcast, little was done to help me feel safe at my place of work and study, even as the university needlessly dragged the investigation out over six months. For the entire investigation, I told no one at the university. This silence left me isolated and miserable. I even doubted if I would be able to graduate.

Testifying in Richmond gave me my voice back.

It was a nerve-wracking but rewarding experience, and I’m thrilled to note that the bill passed. Delegate Helmer has promised he will continue strengthening protections for students and I feel relieved that my voice has resulted in something that can help other people.

While I wish I had been able to talk to Andrew Lewin about my research, I am so thankful he provided a platform for me to discuss my experience and express my concerns. I hope that telling my story will allow other scientists to know they’re not alone, and also compel scientists and organizations to become more proactive about their harassment and discrimination policies. There’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to sexual assault and harassment in STEM. I hope I get people thinking, talking and making changes.

Following my assault, I seriously considered leaving science forever. Since being honest about my experiences, I have been honored and humbled by the incredible supportive response from the marine science community. I am so thankful to be able to do what I love surrounded by such amazing people.

I Passed My Defense!

Pro-life tip: Get an awesome committee!

I have successfully defended my Master’s Thesis on “Support for basking shark tourism in Donegal, Ireland”! It will be published on the George Mason Library website sometime in the next few weeks, but if you can’t wait to read it, you can download it here.

In the next few weeks, I will also be writing a series a blog posts focusing on my most interesting findings. Stay tuned!

I also have to give a shout out to Dr. Chris Parsons, Dr. Cindy Smith, and Dr. Erin Peters-Burton, as they were a great committee to work with and provided invaluable mentor-ship.

Shark Tourism in Ireland?

I have just returned from three weeks in Ireland, where I did sociological research on public perceptions of basking sharks.

That’s kind of a mouthful.

I had to suffer through sunsets like this while I surveyed. It was a real struggle, but somehow I made it through.

What I really did was spend time in tropical Buncrana, walk along the beach and local trail with perpetual puppy eyes and asked people to fill out my survey. I was aided by the unseasonably warm weather and the Irish Open which kept people outside and happy, respectively. Continue reading “Shark Tourism in Ireland?”

British Columbia and Basking Sharks

While my master’s research is focused solely on basking sharks in EU waters, in my general research on them, I came across an unusually troubling account of species eradication. This is the story of the basking shark in British Columbia.

Have you ever heard of basking sharks in British Columbia?


Yeah, there’s a reason for that. I will tell you a short but terrible tale. I warn you, it is not for the faint of heart.

Continue reading “British Columbia and Basking Sharks”

Occoquan River Clean up

I participated in a clean up of Occoquan Regional Park this week. Dr. Dann Sklarew kindly invited me to come kayaking with his class (I know, my job sounds so terrible) and I put together a short video from the Gopro footage I shot while on the water. I also learned that it is very difficult to paddle a kayak and hold a Gopro steady. We found quite a bit of plastic trash. I didn’t get footage of it, but someone even found a “Graduation 2018” beach ball! They kept it.