Paul Clerkin

I have loved sharks for as long as I can remember. I was raised on Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, watching every show and memorising all the facts that I could. It’s a dream come true that I’ve grown up to work directly with sharks and contribute to research about them. Working with and discovering species has been the focus of my life for the past four years.

I am a fourth-year San Jose State University graduate student of marine science at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in California, with a focus on shark ecology at the Pacific Shark Research Center (PSRC). When I was aboard the fishing vessel Will Watch in the Southern Indian Ocean during my second semester of graduate school in 2012, I designed a comprehensive sampling protocol that enabled me to examine systematically the trawler’s shark by-catch. The protocol subsequently received acclaim at a workshop that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization invited me to co-instruct.

Before studying at Moss Landing, I was deployed for several seasons aboard long-liners and trawlers in the Bering Sea by the National Marine Fisheries Service. As an undergraduate at Cornell University, I also participated in the Sea Education Association’s Semester-at-Sea programme, conducting open-ocean research during a 4,800-kilometre voyage on a research/sailing-school vessel in the equatorial Pacific. All told, I have logged nearly 12 months of at-sea research.