An Interview with WiseOceans… Patrick Burke from Bimini Sharklab
We’re off to the Bahamas… We’ve been chatting to Patrick Burke from Bimini Sharklab this week. His advice is to get out there, get involved and get your hands dirty!
Name: Patrick Burke
Job Title: Outreach Coordinator
Organisation: Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation – SharkLab
- What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
A love for the ocean that was founded by spending summers on the east coast of the US. While most it was spent with invertebrates, like blue crabs, around Chesapeake Bay it has somehow led me to sharks!
- What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
I found opportunities to get my hands dirty, whether it was interning at an aquarium, assisting professors in various projects after school, or volunteering at a shark research station. Finding ways to increase your knowledge either by school or experience speaks volumes to future employers.
- How did you land your current job/position?
I landed my current position at the SharkLab by initially volunteering at the station. Getting my foot in the door this way quickly led to a Master’s project that evolved into my position now.
- Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
I have the opportunity to educate people about sharks, many of who have never seen a shark in person. I love dispelling the stigma that sharks are vicious predators that will eat any and everything.
- Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
I feel great satisfaction in leaving guests with the perspective that sharks are not something to be feared but to be fascinated by. Changing one person’s perception of sharks’ helps lay the ground work to change the public’s perception as a whole on these magnificent marine creatures.
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
Perseverance. Sometimes you will get denied or told you are not qualified enough. Don’t be disheartened! Just continue to work hard and you will be rewarded.
- Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
As a marine biologist, often we are called to be writers, marketers, mechanics, SCUBA divers, negotiators, managers, and more! Purely studying marine biology is great but diversifying your skill set is very beneficial.
- What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
Get out there! Volunteering, interning or finding any way to get experience is by far the best advice I can give. Often positions exist but won’t be advertised so sending emails to professors or project leaders can be beneficial!
- What is your favourite marine creature and why?
The Great Hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran). The biggest of the hammerheads and incredibly graceful in the water despite their size.
- What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
During one of our Deepline sets, a sampling of sharks around 300-500 meters, we caught a large male tiger shark (around 3 meters, 10 feet). After we had collected all of our data from the shark we released it and watching that magnificent shark descend back to the depths was one of the most beautiful sights I have been lucky enough to witness.
Thanks Patrick, it sounds like you’re doing an amazing job at dispelling the myths about sharks. We also totally agree that diversifying your skill set is very beneficial. Great advice.
If you want to get your hands dirty and get involved with sharks then have a look at what Bimini Sharklab have to offer.
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