Virginia sixth-grader Anna C. chose to dress up as our Executive Director Catherine Macdonald for her winter school project. Anna's teacher Mrs. Miller assigned her class to paint a backdrop for, and dress up as, someone famous for an end of the year "wax museum". Most students dressed up as people who are actually famous--authors, actors, and sports stars. Anna learned about Catherine and her research when she was a featured scientist with the Gills Club in September, and decided she would like to do her project on a (not-so-famous) scientist instead. As you can see, she did a fantastic job!
At the end of November, Anna reached out to Catherine to answer a few additional questions about herself, and Catherine sent along a Shark Research and Conservation Program field shirt and some fishing line that had been used to catch a blacktip shark the previous week for Anna to use in her project.
Below are a few of the questions and answers from their exchange:
Anna: Do you have a pet shark? (I know that that sounds crazy so do you own a dead shark. I do. My sister bought it for me because I love sharks, I LOVE him. I named him Larry. He is a preserved shark in a jar. But I wish that I could have a real pet shark instead.)
Catherine: I don’t have a pet shark, but when I was your age I really, really wanted one. It’s enough for me now to be able to be out on the ocean working with them—I feel like that’s where they belong, more than in a tank at my house. When I was in fifth grade, my dad gave me a shark jaw. I wouldn’t buy one today, because I’d rather that the shark got to keep his jaws, but I still have it and it was one of my absolute favorite treasures. Like I’m sure Larry does for you, my shark jaw helped me still feel connected to sharks when I didn’t live near the ocean.
I do have a pet dog, named Mazi, who is a rescue dog from Egypt who has only two legs (the front two). I’ll attach a picture so you can see him. He’s the best!
Anna: Have you ever been bitten by a shark?
Catherine: No, although I have seen someone else get injured while working with sharks (though thankfully not seriously). If you are a shark researcher you recognize that if you are hurt by one of the sharks you study you have no one to blame but yourself—you are responsible for paying attention and knowing what you can do safely.
Anna: Do you always work with other people or do you work by yourself?
Catherine: The kind of field science I do can be done much better by a team than by any one person alone. So in the field, I always work with other people—you don’t go SCUBA diving without a buddy to help you stay safe! But when I do the hard part of science—sitting down to analyze the data and try to understand what it all means—I am sometimes by myself. But collaborating with other people makes the whole process better. I work with my best friends and that’s a pretty awesome thing to get to do every day.
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