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  Seaweek 2005 - Save Our Sharks    

Interview with a shark scientist

Rachel Robbins, Shark Researcher
Until recently, Rachel was employed at the Fox Shark Research Foundation

1. How long have you worked at your current place of employment?
I worked at the FSRF for 3 years.

2. Have you always been a shark biologist?
Mostly. I worked as a shark biologist throughout the 3 years it took to complete my PhD.

3. How did you become a shark biologist?
I completed a degree in Marine biology in Belfast before coming out to Australia to research white sharks for my PhD research, which I have just completed.

4. Why did you become a shark biologist?
I always wanted to work with sharks in one way or another, I was always fascinated by their behaviours both in the wild and in captivity and wanted to help change public attitudes in order to conserve and protect the dwindling populations around the world.


Great white shark eating a whale.
Image © Ken Hoppen Photography

5. What shark/s do you work with?
Great white sharks.

6. What are you trying to find out about the sharks?
I have been researching the sexual and size segregation observed in white shark populations at the Neptune Islands, South Australia; the effect that baiting and cage diving has on their behaviours; and I have also undertaken a satellite tagging project to determine their movements after leaving the Neptune Islands.

7. Have you ever been bitten by a shark?

8. What's the biggest shark you have ever seen?
A couple of years ago, I had a 5.5m female white shark check me out whilst I was diving in a shark cage, she was absolutely huge and dwarfed even the 4m sharks which had been around before she turned up – they quickly moved out of her way!

9. Have you ever been diving in a shark cage?
Yes, often. In the 3 years it took me to complete my PhD, I dived many many times in the cages with white sharks.

10a. What's the best part about your job?
The fact that I get the feeling that I am making a difference, that the research I am undertaking is completely novel and can be used to help further protect the white shark.

Great white shark eating a whale.

Image © Ken Hoppen Photography

10b. Worst part?
The smell of the chum (bait), after a few days in the hot sun, it can really become over bearing!!


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Save Our Sharks March 6 to 13, 2005