BBFS PIT Journal 2003

PIT Program 2003 Participants

  Alan Reeve - Birmingham, UK
     I am currently out here in Bimini doing the research component of a Masters degree investigating the feeding selectivity of sharks. I love working in any aquatic environment. I like snowboarding, football, and acting like a fool with Steve, Bryan and Grant. Big up to all my peeps and Elina -- I love you.
  Bryan Franks (before BBFS) - Vineland, NJ, USA
      I've been here for 6 months and am currently workin on my Ph.D project. I like jumping off the dock naked, paperclips, and cantaloupe. My dislikes are are mustard and herbivores. My most interesting experience at the Sharklab has been tagging myself in the right buttocks with a Casey tag. I enjoy long walks on the beach with open-minded people, sipping champagne, and eating strawberries.
  Bryan Franks (after BBFS) - Vineland, NJ, USA
      (additional photo included to avoid unnecessary embarrassment)
  Drew Lynford - Catonah, New York, USA
  Eric Cheng - San Francisco, CA, USA - [homepage]
     Eric Cheng is a software engineer, musician, and underwater photographer. He runs wetpixel.com and takes pictures of everything he sees. More information about Eric can be gleaned from his personal website: echeng.com
  Grant Johnson - Minneapolis, MN, USA
     In the two years since I've been here, I've been bitten by a lemon shark, stung by a stingray, rammed by bull sharks, chased by reef sharks, man-handled by a sawfish, slapped by tiger sharks, and today, I spent 45 minutes with my hand stuck in a nurse shark's mouth. And I consider myself one of the luckiest mother-f'ers in the world.
  Indigo - Bimini, Bahamas

Jackie Randell - St. John, New Brunswick, Canada
     Coming back to the lab was one of the best decisions I have made. Living on a tiny island in the Bahamas and being given the opportunity to see things like a 14 ft. sawfish makes the thought of leaving the lab and returning to normal life a difficult choice. Also, working with people who make me laugh daily and hearing things that most people really don't need to hear has corrupted me a bit and taught me some valuable phrases that I can use at truck stops.

  Johanna Imhoff - Felton, PA, USA
     I am a senior marine biology major at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and I am very happy to be spending my summer here at the Sharklab (although I will miss my family when they are in Ocracoke without me). I love scuba diving with my Dad and Uncle Mike, which is how I encountered my first shark in the wild, the sand tiger. I also enjoy photography, playing my guitar, girls night, and dollar tacos at Carolina Cantina.

     A few words about sharks by my favorite poet, Ogden Nash:

          As many scientists have written,
          The shark is gentle as a kitten.
          Yet this I know about the shark --
          His bit is worser than his bark.
  Joy Young - Springfield, Missouri, USA
     There are just too many dolphin huggers out there, and my mom hates that I work with sharks. *Those who hear not the music think the dancer mad.*
  Katie Jarik - Santa Barbara, CA, USA
     "Hey, Skitch. How did we get here!?!"
     "I led you here, sir, for I am Spartacus." - That Thing You Do
My love of animals has brought me a long way -- from equestrian to giant schnauzer owner to BBFS (and many a step in between). But I have not gotten here alone. My wonderful family and friends have supported me all the way. To my San Diegan and UCSB peeps, I am proud to call you my friends. Many thanks to all!
     People often ask me, "Why sharks?" Though I could go on for hours, I can simply say, "They never cease to amaze me." But that's usually the case with anything we love -- any passion we possess. Follow your passion, follow what you love... and you can't go wrong. and so, enjoy the ride. God speed, all -- live, laugh, love.
  Kristene Parsons - Bowling Green, OH, USA
     Similar to most of the other crazy people here, I have had an uncontrollable passion for sharks since I was very young, and have chosen to dedicate the rest of my life to their protection through discovery and knowledge. This pursuit has led me to Dr. Gruber and the Sharklab, where I've affectionately called home since February, 2002.
     PIT this year is my farewell to Bimini, as I'm leaving for graduate school in England. I leave behind great stories and memories, lifetime friends, the bluest waters, and amazing sharks. Most of all, I leave this place where, for people like me, Doc & Mari have made dreams come true. Never could I have imagined that at age 24 I'd have seen, done, and learned as much as I have about sharks and life as a field scientist. I have been privileged to work with 93 volunteers from around the world, a great staff, an amazing principal investigator, and one in-the-making. I couldn't have asked for anything more in my life at this point, and I thank all those who made this experience what it has been -- especially Doc. Where I go from here may be thousands of miles away on some other island, but my heart is always in Bimini. I take with me the honor of having worked with, and more importantly, the opportunity to have known a legend in our world of sharks. Thanks, Doc!
  Laura Metcalfe - Lancashire, UK
     Hey, I'm Laura and I've had an overwhelming passion for sharks since I was a wee nipper! After completing my degree in applied biology at LJM (Liverpool John Moores University), I proceeded to take on an MSC in behavioural ecology. It was then that I was introduced to the Sharklab. I carried out my MSC project here last summer on the diurnal behaviour of activity patterns of the juvenile lemon shark. I accumulated so many memories and experiences here last summer (including a >12ft sawfish!) that I decided to return to the lab for PIT. Both the people and the place itself have encouraged me to pursue a career in shark behaviour and their conservation. Apart from my obsession with sharks (especially, the bull shark), I also enjoy kickboxing, basketball, and supporting the almighty LFC!
     I'd like to thank my family and friends for their enthusiasm and support, especially my ickle bruv. I love ya heaps, Marko. x
  Lesley Brown, a.k.a. "Lezzles" - Dalkeith, Scotland
     Sexy curvaceous young blonde Scots girl WLTM talk dark stranger with GSOH + a passion for sharks. Oops! Wrong website. Sorry, Mum!
     I have a degree in Zoology and came out here in January after pestering Doc for months to do the research for my Masters in Behavioural Ecology. Originally was going to come for 3 months, then 4, then 5, and now it's going to be 6 months by the time I finally get home to Bonnie Scotland. Basically, they can't get rid of me. So I'm having fun out here in the sunshine playing with sharks (and being bitten by them -- twice!) and getting a good suntan. Hopefully I'll have a Masters at the end, but who cares! I'm having fun.
     P.S. Anna Belly Broon -- can't wait to see my little niece or nephew -- miss you! Highbury Massive -- serious drinking in the Toon is approaching fast -- miss you guys, too. XX Lezzles

Lilian Gehrke - Kiel, Germany
     Hi, everybody! I am in my 7th semester studying marine biology in Kiel, Germany. I am doing my masters project here in Bimini about prey choice criteria of juvenile lemon sharks. This place is very nice; I enjoy seeing all the crazy stuff happening here. I really like all kinds of sharks. Apart from sharks, I love funny sports like kiteboarding, snowboarding, skating, rock-climbing, mountain biking, and martial arts. Being a part of PIT has been one of the best times I've had since I've been here. Fette Grüsse nach Kiel!

  Marie Gruber - Miami, FL, USA
     I'm a former fashion designer married to "Doc". Doc says they tie boats to him, so I guess I'm a boat! I help run the Shark Lab by cooking for special events and classes or whenever I go to the Shark Lab. I help organize all the volunteers and keep the files back in the Miami office. I came to Florida back in the '60s from Los Angeles, California on a designing job and met the "Doc". The passion he has for sharks kind of rubbed off on me ( not to swim with them or kiss them) but to help him with his work and studies. We raised our own "Mini-Shark Docs", 2 daughters. They both love Bimini and the Shark Lab. They were both instrumental in building and training the early staff. Although they return frequently, they are off on their own careers.
  Marta Calosso - Milan, Italy
     I'm Marta, 25, from Italy. I have had a passion for sharks since I was 16 years old, and so being down here in Bimini is like a dream come true. This is the second time that I have come to the BBFS, and there are no words that can describe how happy I am to be back. This experience makes me realize what I want to do with my life, and what kind of person I would like to to be. I also realized that I only have one life to live, and it should be spent pursuing my passion, no matter how long or difficult the path might be.

Matthias Kühn - Philadelphia, PA, USA
     I: was born in 1982 in Dresden, Germany, am a senior majoring in zoology and German at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, am on the Wisconsin crew team, like sports music, and partying, have an illustrious singing career here in Bimini, and enjoy "CDT."


Melissa Yencho - Fairfield, CT, USA
     Hey everyone! My name is Melissa Yencho and I recently graduated from Coastal Carolina University with dual degrees in marine science and biology with a minor in chemistry. On to fun stuff: In addition to loving sharks, I also enjoy yoga, longlining, rollerblading, singing, anything creative, and teaching myself bass guitar. I also enjoy movies, music and enjoying my friends' company. My favorite sharks are the bull shark and the nurse shark with an extra special place in my heart for C. plumbeus. In the future I plan on studying veterinary medicine of aquatic animals. I am also going to pursue a masters of marine biology at University of Charleston in the Fall. Namaste.


Pelican - Bimini, Bahamas
     It was January of 2002, and I had settled down in the beautiful islands of Bimini for the winter. One day while taking a leisurely swim between North and South Bimini, I was struck by a boat and lost my wing. Soon after, I was "rescued" by a tall, lanky, American boy and a beautiful Brazilian girl, and brought to the Sharklab. Since then, I have claimed the dock as my kingdom, been fed like a queen, and have been trying to convince everyone that my name is not Pelly.

  Ratdog - Bimini, Bahamas

Rebecca Dolson - Guelph, Ontario, Canada
     Hi all! Well, I am a 3rd year marine and freshwater bio student at the University of Guelph. I am having the time of my life here in Bimini. I never expected to meet so many awesome people, and I can't begin to describe the scenery or the amazing work we get to participate in. I want to thank everyone who helped me to get here for all your support: Doc, for letting me come, Ryan, just because, and a special thank you to Alan. I love sharks -- all of them -- but I hate bugs!


Ruth Harris - Southampton, Hampshire, UK
     I have been obsessed with sharks since before I can remember and anyone who knows me will tell you that once I get started talking about sharks I won't shut up. My diving experiences with sharks made me totally in awe of their beauty and grace, and I hope my work will encourage conservation and understanding of these amazing creatures. I now have a Masters on Oceanography for which I was lucky enough to study sand tiger sharks (my favourite shark!). I have been here at the Sharklab for 3 months now and have seen and learnt so much, there's no doubt I'll spend my life studying sharks, and I hope to find a PhD on sand tigers shortly. I miss and love all my family and friends who have been a tower of strength and encouragement. I am especially proud of a certain friend who once wouldn't come in my room as I had a poster of a shark but has now actually swum with one! Yes, Polls -- that's you! My favourite times (without sharks) are spent socialising with friends, playing with my niece and nephews, listening to hip-hop and R&B, and dancing, with a bit of yoga thrown in for good measure. Big thanks to all my friends, family, and of course, everyone at the Sharklab! Love you all!


Samuel Gruber - Miami, FL, USA
    I've always loved the water and the beaches, and as a child on Miami Beach began my interest in marine biology by collecting shells from the age of seven. As I grew up I spent most of my days in or on the water, teaching myself to SCUBA dive at age 13 in 1952, and did competition swimming and springboard diving as my major sport. In my junior year at college, while spear fishing I was menaced by a huge hammerhead shark. I was absolutely frightened and awed yet the giant fish was beautiful, magnificent and circling me! When he did not actually kill and consume me, I knew that I wanted to learn more about them, so right then and there I started my lifetime work on these splendid creatures. I decided to study the lemon shark because they were available locally and were able to survive in captivity fairly well. I spent my early years in the laboratory studying their behavior and their sensory (vision, olfaction and hearing) physiology. But, soon I was spending so much time in the lab that I felt I was losing my focus on the animal itself. So decided change careers and to go out in the field. For over a decade I went to the Bahamas and Bimini in search of the lemon shark and its mysteries. During this period (1978-1990), I had been in a battle to the death with malignant lymphoma. It appears that I won, a getting a new lease on life, so I decided to forgo the research vessels and to open my own field station on Bimini to conduct shark research on my own time. I thought I wouldn't have to beg for grants or funding if I could just get barely enough to run the station. But eventually, funding came, and I received grants from the Office of Naval Research National Science Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation National Sea Grant and the Florida State Department of Education. However the events of 9/11 overtook our funding so that today we rely on the generous patrons and philanthropic private donors. Thanks to these generous people we are able to keep the Shark Lab afloat and the worthy graduate students who train and study the endangered lemon sharks in the clear waters of the Bahamas.


Steve Kessel - Middlesex, UK
     Steve was born in a traveling circus just outside of New Guinea. His life as a carnie was short-lived, as a strong dislike for small hands forced him to run away at the age of 3. By the time Steve was four, he had slipped into alcoholism. One rainy night back in May, 1985, Steve went on a serious bender and woke up in November, 2002, on the doorstep of the Sharklab, with no memory of the time between. After 7 months at the lab, Steve had decided that his favorite shark is definitely the loan shark, as none of the others can feed his gambling addiction.


Tarra Cooper - Miami, FL, USA
     I am going into my fourth and final year at Florida Tech for marine biology. Obviously, I really like sharks, which is why I'm in lovely bug-infested Bimini for the summer. This place is beautiful, and I encourage everyone to take a trip to this tiny island. Although it's only 50 miles from home, I feel like I'm in a world away. So to everyone at home, I love you, I miss you, and thank you for helping me to get where I am today.


Teabag - Bimini, Bahamas
     Missing: scrawny dog with huge head and bright red lipstick.