Tonya Wiley

I was raised in Grand Haven, Michigan, and Fort Worth, Texas, far from any saltwater, but I developed a love for the marine environment during family vacations to Florida. I caught my first shark, a small blacktip, while fishing with my dad when I was about seven years old. From that moment on I was ‘hooked’ and wanted to spend every possible moment on or in the water. I was so captivated by what I was seeing in the Gulf of Mexico that I did numerous school reports and projects on marine life, I read countless books and watched all the television documentaries about the ocean I could, and I filled all my vacation minutes with fishing, snorkelling, beachcombing and parasailing.

I spent four years in the US Navy, then earned a degree in marine fisheries from Texas A&M University at Galveston. The love for the outdoors and water that was cultivated when I was a child continues today. I am still fascinated by the incredible variety and beauty of life in the water, challenged to learn as much as I can, and thrilled that my passion has become my career.

I am an appointed member of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Smalltooth Sawfish Recovery Implementation Team, a multi-institutional panel of experts working to protect the remaining sawfish population in the USA and prevent the species from going extinct.