Love sharks?

Ichthyology, according to Wikipedia, is the branch of zoology that concentrates its focus on studying fishes of various types. And, while some devote their entire careers to researching the feeding, reproductive, and migratory habits of the smaller fish, a chosen daring few decide to specialize on the never-less-than-fascinating field of sharks.

Known the world over as fearsome predators to be avoided at all costs, sharks are rarely as vicious as the movies depict them to be, with all but the Tiger, Mako and Great White Shark scarcely a threat to human beings. In fact, far more deaths occur every year as the result of boating accidents than ever at the jaws of this prehistoric predator.
This occupation is as much governed by women as it is by men, and in the research capacity there are a number of jobs open to all, such as that of the Shark Fishery Observer. The job description in this case is a highly varied one, with observers being responsible for collecting and cross-referencing data, writing reports and making submissions for funding, as well as more hands-on-roles which involve large periods of time spent at sea. The hope is that sufficient data will be acquired, which might then allow some insight into the rituals and behaviour of this predator – one that is far more at risk from man (on a global scale) than the other way around.
Naturally, this isn’t the kind of interesting career that a person just falls into by accident (unless, perhaps, they have been working in an associated biological field and later seek to make a change). Consequently, a love of fish and the oceans of the world in general is a prerequisite, as is a degree in biology, as well as – usually – a Masters degree in marine biology (and sometimes a PhD). Observers are also trained in a number of individual and equally essential fields, as much for safety at sea as for the study of sharks: these include – and there is far too much to write here, including sea turtle resuscitation techniques – first aid and CPR, marine safety, acoustic tracking, biological sampling and data collection at sea.
You might think that a love of the sea and of sharks would be enough, yet there are a few defining skills which are highly sought after and sure to increase the probability of finding gainful employment. Determination is probably top of the list, which many candidates demonstrate by completing voluntary assignments in the field. Excellent organizational skills and time management skills are needed to compile the data accurately. And last but not least, in order to gain sponsorship and additional funding, presentation skills are often integral to the job – and, intimidating as this can be for some people, those who succeed in this career all have the ability to overcome this.
As well as a lot of time spent at sea, you will also utilize all those hard earned analytical skills in an office or lab “crunching” data and organizing logistical variables that inevitably arise while going between a current project and an upcoming one that requires careful planning and preparation.


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