|Saturday, 15 May 2010|
David Shiffman loves all things sharks! He is a graduate student in South Carolina studying the ecology and conservation of sandbar sharks, writes for the blog Southern Fried Science as “WhySharksMatter”, and even has his own book coming out in order to educate more people on why we should all be involved in protecting the world’s shark populations!
What is your favorite species of shark, and why? What is your favorite shark quality?
My favorite species of shark is the Megaladon, which is basically an extinct 60 foot long great white. Their teeth can be five or six inches long, making them a pretty impressive predator!
Why do sharks matter, and what does the welfare of sharks mean for the welfare of the ocean?
What research have you been working on concerning sandbar sharks? What does it involve and why is it important?
Besides your research, what do you do in order to protect sharks? What can others do?
The most important thing that people can do is to learn about sharks, their importance, and the threats they face. Once you’ve learned about them, tell a friend or family member what you’ve learned. I also recommend eating marine stewardship council certified sustainable seafood, which has relatively low shark bycatch rates.
Tell us about your writing! What is your book about? What is Southern Fried Science?
Southern Fried Science (southernfriedscience.com) was started by my good friend and former college roommate Andrew Thaler (the Southern Fried Scientist), who studies the deep sea. We also have a third author, Amy Freitag (Bluegrass Blue Crab) who studies the sociology of blue crab fisherman in the outer banks. I write as “WhySharksMatter”.
Our primary goal is to educate the public about science and conservation, but it also serves as a virtual meeting place for scientists, students, conservationists, and interested members of the general public to discuss important issues. We welcome comments from all of our readers and encourage anyone reading this interview to read the blog and join in the discussion!
I write primarily about shark science and conservation issues, but anything ocean or science related is fair game. Though many posts are designed merely to explain a new piece of shark news, I enjoy writing about controversial issues because they tend to generate interesting discussions. I personally learn a lot by observing both sides of a debate argue it out.
Its wonderful that there is a place where people can discuss and learn about difficult topics! We recently read about your opinions on dolphin safe tuna. What do you believe people should know about this subject? How can this problem be solved?
On an individual level, people can eat troll-caught tuna, which is much more expensive but doesn’t have any bycatch issues. You can also just not eat tuna. A global solution is much more complicated because tuna is one of the cheapest sources of protein around, which means that many of the world’s poor can’t really afford a more environmentally friendly food source.
Clearly this is a very complicated issue. What kind of things do you feel need to be done, on both small and large scales, in terms of marine conservation?
David Shiffman is a graduate student studying marine biology at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. His research focuses on the feeding ecology and conservation of sandbar sharks. Originally from Pittsburgh, David graduated with distinction from Duke University in 2007 with a B.S. in Biology and a concentration in Marine Biology. In addition to his research, David is actively involved in educating the public about the importance of sharks and the threats they face. He writes for the marine biology blog SouthernFriedScience.com and gives shark conservation presentations. After completing his masters degree he plans to get his PhD and continue researching shark ecology and conservation.
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