Shark Week: The Podcast

S2 Ep.2: William Shatner’s Legendary Shark Encounter

Episode Summary

For Shark Week, Dr. Tristan Guttridge linked up with legendary actor William Shatner to boldly go where Shark Week has never gone before. The mission: enter shark-infested waters to understand the nature of fear and come face to face with an apex predator. Dr. Guttridge shares what he learned.

Episode Notes

For Shark Week, Dr. Tristan Guttridge linked up with legendary actor William Shatner to boldly go where Shark Week has never gone before. The mission: enter shark-infested waters to understand the nature of fear and come face to face with an apex predator. Dr. Guttridge shares what he learned.

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Find episode transcript here:

Episode Transcription

[MUSIC PLAYING] LUKE TIPPLE: Good day. I'm Luke Tipple. Happy Shark Week. And welcome to the Daily Bite, the show where we go behind the scenes with the stars of Shark Week, and talk about one of our favorite subjects-- sharks. Today, we're joined by Dr. Tristan Guttridge to discuss his latest shocking mission that included not only Expedition Unknown's Josh Gates, but the legendary William Shatner. Let's have a listen.


SPEAKER 1: I want to comprehend the nature of fear and what better way could I do it than this icon and the world's biggest wuss.


SPEAKER 2: Boy, it felt like it was going to be a compliment.


SPEAKER 1: I need to know, are you in or are you out?


SPEAKER 2: I'm in we're going on a shark trek, or it's Shat week, whichever you prefer. Either way, I'm cool with it. When do we leave?


SPEAKER 1: Now. And I prefer shark track. It's got a ring to it.


LUKE TIPPLE: Well, this show is definitely one for the geekdom and fandom and looks like a lot of fun. Dr. Tristan Guttridge, how did this come about? Well, first of all, welcome to the show and welcome back to Daily Bites.


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: Nice to be here. Great to chat again about sharks, nothing I love more.


LUKE TIPPLE: For sure. Well, I mean, we've been chatting. I feel like this is just kind of like one of our normal talks because we've talked about sharks a lot this year. And I know you've been doing a lot out in Bahamas and I want to talk about that.


But let's, first of all, talk about this show. So we've got Josh Gates and Bill Shatner out on this epic adventure. How did that come about? And did they like ask you to set up an adventure for them or what was your involvement?


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: Well, I've worked with Josh a couple of years ago on a show, where we were looking at megalodon. And so we kind of built up a bit of a relationship on that. We did some diving with Mako sharks. And so his team reached out and said, would you be excited to work with us on another possible show? And obviously, I'm not going to say no.


And then when they talked about who else was going to be involved on the show, I was very excited because I used to watch Star Trek as a kid. And then the concept was just trying to understand more about, I guess, people's fear of sharks and where that comes from. And they wanted to spend time with some of the most weird and bizarre looking sharks. And that's where I got involved because I work with great hammerheads and one of the main species I work with, as well as small toothed swordfish too.


LUKE TIPPLE: So let's dive into that work, because I know-- I mean, how long have you been out of Bahamas for, working?


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: Wow. So I first went to the Bahamas in 2005. So we're now looking at about 16 years I've been in and out of the Bahamas. And I, mainly, work with this little lemon shark. That was my species of focus when I first started, looking at social behavior and group living.


And then kind of the last five or six years, I've started learning more about threatened species and how they use the different habitats and waters in the Bahamas. And my wife and I have established a nonprofit now called Saving the Blue. And that's one of our main objectives is learning more about these threatened species.


LUKE TIPPLE: So in doing all that work I know that you used to live at the field station, at the Bimini field station. Yeah, so you went from living and bunking. I assume that's where you were doing your PhD. And then now, you've moved on to starting a foundation. And am I correct in saying, didn't you buy a piece of land and you're turning that into another research station out there?


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: We're very close. We're very close. Yes. So we're hoping to set up a field station in Andros, which is the biggest island in the Bahamas. It has the smallest population. It's incredibly remote, really pristine, beautiful habitats, and of course, lots of sharks and rays.


But we know basically next to nothing about the animals that use this huge island. And so what we're hoping to do is set up a small scale field station to be able to run our research and education and outreach for 24/7, pretty much.


LUKE TIPPLE: Yeah. So in your work with, as you say, sort of the weird wonderful and strange species of sharks, I mean, give people at home, who might not have seen a lot of Bahamas, kind of a rundown from your experience in those odd species that you might find out there.


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: I guess, the two most bizarre looking species that are seen in the Bahamas are the great hammerhead shark and the smalltooth swordfish. And the great hammerhead is the biggest of all the hammerhead species. It can grow up to 20 feet long and it has that, obviously, weird head on the front of its nose.


And of course, another really weird looking animal is the smalltooth swordfish. And people always assume that that's another shark, but it's actually a ray. It has its gills on the underside and it has like a hedge trimmer for a snout. And they can get huge as well up to 20 feet long.


And we believe that the Bahamas is one of very few locations across the world that actually might have a viable population of this species. So we're really excited to learn more about that and have worked with various collaborators looking at movement and habitat use of both of those species.


LUKE TIPPLE: So when a production company comes to you and says, hey, we've got a few hours or a day or a very finite amount of time, and we want to see some extremely rare and difficult to find species of sharks, can you just set that all up? We'll be in at 2:00, out by 3:00. How does an order like that come across to you?


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: Well, yeah, smalltooth swordfish are incredibly rare to see. So it's not like we can just hop in a boat and off we go. And to be honest, just seeing sharks, anyways, is not easy. Typically, they're quite cryptic. They're quite secretive. They live in this expansive world. And so you can't just nip out on a boat and go and see them.


And this is why we chose to set the scene at the start of this exciting Shark Week show at the Atlantis resort, where they have this small population of smalltooth swordfish. In fact, they have a captive breeding program, where they managed to have little baby swordfish that are now almost adults.


So it was a really exciting moment to be able to see those animals and to be able to show Josh and Bill some of the most bizarre looking animals really close up because you would never get that opportunity, typically, in the wild.


LUKE TIPPLE: Yeah. I've spent my fair share of time looking for both those species and with mixed results. But let's check out the adventure of the aquarium because it was quite a special thing to be able to see both of these species and both of them got a little bit close for comfort for Mr. William Shatner.


SPEAKER 3: Holy cats. Look at this. Look at this coming at us.


SPEAKER 4: Coming right up. Right toward us.


SPEAKER 5: Oh, boy.


SPEAKER 4: Stand your ground. Stand your ground.


SPEAKER 3: Look at that. Holy cats. Whoa. Is that a thrill?


SPEAKER 5: Unbelievable.


SPEAKER 3: What are you doing up there?


SPEAKER 5: I'm behind you. What are you talking about? I'm hiding.


LUKE TIPPLE: OK. So we're putting some pretty big profile celebrities in the water, waiting around up to their chest with great hammerhead swimming around. Good idea, bad idea, what were your thoughts?


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: I mean, I think it's a great idea. Why not let them get nice and close to these iconic animals and get to experience them close up and personal. There's nothing quite like-- you hear all these stories about these amazing creatures, these big sharks and rays.


But unless you actually see one in the flesh, you can't quite believe how they've evolved, how they've adapted into these incredible animals. So to be right next to one and be able to see one and talk about one and have one swim past you is just one of those amazing experiences that you can't explain to someone.


LUKE TIPPLE: Are they able to keep the great hammerheads there at Atlantis year round or they kind of bring them in and put them back out again? It's a fairly large shark to keep that, right?


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: Yeah. I mean, the one thing that I would say about Atlantis that makes it very special is that they have this flow through system. So the water there is constantly being flowed through from the actual ocean. So it's a very healthy system to be in place.


I'm not exactly sure what their policy is on keeping the great hammerheads, but I know with other species, they pull them in and out. So I think with the manta rays, for example, they have them in for a year or so, and then they release them again. And they have a recovery program for some of the turtles and Dolphins as well for injured individuals and those that have been stranded and things like that.


And I know that the senior aquarist there was planning on hoping to release some of those swordfish which would be great, given their populations are in global decline. It'd nice to see a few of those released because I think there's around seven or eight of them they now have because of those pups growing up to big ones.


LUKE TIPPLE: I would have given my [INAUDIBLE] to find seven or eight smalltooth swordfish when we're out looking for them. I mean, even finding one is difficult. So I think the contribution of a facility like that to be able to replenish populations that are in decline and endangered is pretty amazing.


Yeah, it makes me think about when I was young marine biologists, full of bluster and hot air, I remember being down in Honduras and talking to people as I did. I do like talks every other night about different sharks.


And in that area, I was working with whale sharks. And I was talking about keeping big sharks in captivity. And I used to rail against it. Yeah, I really didn't have much more thought other than if you want to go see them, go find them. There are ways to go do it, go see them.


But I think as I've, perhaps, got more maturity or learned more or whatever else, I've changed how I see aquariums and the work that they do and contribution that they have. I'm curious as to your thoughts because you do a lot of work in sort of both places, especially out in the wild. So how do you look at aquariums and their service to marine biology and sharks in general?


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: I mean, I would say I was exactly the same as you. When I was growing up, OK, I went to a few aquariums when I was younger, but I always didn't really understand, particularly, some of the bigger sharks, why they would be there.


But I guess that actually fueled my passion for those animals and wanting to protect them and learn about them and have a career with them. And I see my children's reaction when we've taken them to aquariums. And it clearly inspires the younger generation. So I think that's obviously one massive benefit. But I also know a lot of these aquariums will contribute to research too.


Some of those bigger animals are very difficult to work with in the wild. And you can then do observations, you can look at their reproductive biology. A good example is that in Atlantis, we know that those baby swordfish took around eight years to reach sexual maturity because you're able to monitor them from when they were born all the way up to now that they are mature. And that corroborates what scientists believe is going on in the wild from growth rate studies in the wild.


So it can be a useful way of contributing to our understanding of the biology of these animals. But I think there's a balance there. And if you can switch some of these animals out, and especially the ones that are longer living, then, ideally, you would want to do that, but it's not an easy thing to do.


LUKE TIPPLE: Yeah. And I guess, it is also sort of species dependent. Some do quite well in a captive environment, some might need to be cycled in and out. I remember some rather unsuccessful efforts at keeping great white sharks in aquariums, for example, versus the smalltooth swordfish, they seem to-- I don't know if thrive is the right word, but they seem to do pretty well in that facility.


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: Yeah, exactly. You've got that flow through system, which provides all the ambient conditions that they would be used to. They obviously, don't have any predators to worry about, any competition for food.


And there are benthic species anyway that spends quite a lot of time on the bottom, resting. So I think if it's done in a nice-- and that habitat, that lagoon as well, is well-maintained, is well-managed, it's decent space for some of those bigger animals too. So I think it can be quite an effective tool for inspiring kids and for learning more about the biology of these animals.


But I agree with you. I find it quite difficult, sometimes, seeing those huge animals in there. And I'd love to have them out in the wild, but we need ways to improve their conservation and management. And the aquarium's definitely have a role with that and can have a role.


LUKE TIPPLE: Yeah. So kind of switching gears here and going into out into the wild now, away from the aquarium now. I know that you weren't on the parts of the chute that then went out to like Tiger Beach and out to [INAUDIBLE] operation, right?


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: No, I wasn't, sadly. They just didn't want me. I don't know why.


LUKE TIPPLE: I'm sure you're too valuable.


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: I was very happy to just talk about the swordfish and hammerhead. Yeah. And you've got to give love to other scientists as well. I'm very privileged to have opportunities to work with some of these amazing people and celebrities. And I think it's good to mix it up and get other people in there with their expertise as well.


LUKE TIPPLE: Oh, for sure. In what you do, I know with your non-profit and just general work, you do a fair bit of work in getting people out into the open water and seeing sharks out in the wild. Talk to me about the complications of running that with both the science focused mind, as well as the business mind that you're putting towards that, and making it sustainable for both the animals and yourself.


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: Well, when I was running the Bimini Shark Lab, we would host university courses, where people, that were doing degrees in marine biology, would learn about sharks and behavior. But we found that when we had the general public would come around the facility, people would be keen on having these experiences.


And we quickly realized that we could run, potentially, a field trip or a week long course for just the general public, people that have passion about sharks and want to learn more, and want to have that insight into what a scientist's job is.


And so we started running these types of trips when I was in Bimini. And then when we started our nonprofit in Andros and running trips there, we needed a mechanism to help, actually, pay for the research. And so that's what our trips actually do. We have people that come on these trips and they pay for the food, the accommodation, the boat. And then they help us on these trips and we get to, then, have research opportunities.


And we're able to, then, sponsor some of the local students. There's a Marine Institute on Andros called BAMSI. And we're able to take some of those local kids out as well. And it's all funded by, essentially, the public that are excited about learning about research and sharks and want to have close up encounters with them.


And yeah, it's a really helpful mechanism in a different way of basically being able to run research. Because traditionally, you would have to apply for grants through the government or through private foundations. And we've kind of find a different way of being able to fund some of this stuff, which is important.


LUKE TIPPLE: Yeah. And the so the general premise other than seeing William Shatner underwater, which is pretty amazing.


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: Gosh, unbelievable.


LUKE TIPPLE: I mean, he really did pretty good. I mean, you put him in with the hammerheads and then with a smalltooth. And I know that you were kind of coaching them through on how to best deal with these predators in very close proximity. What was your advice to him as he went in the water?


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: I mean, the advice was just to stay calm and relax and just enjoy it. The less movements you make, the more kind of low profile you are, the more likely you'll get a close encounter with them. Obviously, in the constraints of an aquarium or an area like that, it's difficult for the animals to move away from you. But staying still and watching from a distance safely is always a great way to see those animals.


And yeah, he was unbelievable. I had no idea. When he told me, I think, he was 90 or 91, I couldn't believe it. I thought it was 80 the way he was acting or even younger than that, to be honest. He was so enthusiastic, so motivated. He just wanted to learn. He wanted to be in the water. And he invited us out for dinner every night, such a lovely man.


LUKE TIPPLE: Yeah. Well, not only did he get to dive in the aquarium, but he did get to go out into the wild and check out some other species. Let's listen to the clip.


NARRATOR: In a flash, sharks are everywhere-- reef sharks, nurse sharks, everyone wants a taste. The biggest eater is just bellying up to the bar.


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: There is a massive tiger, probably 17 feet.


SPEAKER 6: That one is huge. Are you doing OK bill?


SPEAKER 7: This is crazy. It's circling back towards us.


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: Don't panic. Just be ready to react.


SPEAKER 6: Josh, watch out.


LUKE TIPPLE: OK. So we've got huge celebrities out with tiger sharks now and Caribbean reef sharks, experiencing the bounties of those waters. What I wanted to kind of like talk to you about is what Bahamas is doing-- and tell me if you're not super knowledgeable about this, but what Bahamas is doing to kind of help that be more sustainable?


Because I know they've had a few incidents recently with fishing and capture in what's supposed to be a shark sanctuary. What's going on there?


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: Well, I mean, the Bahamas, back in the early '90s, they banned commercial long lining and gill netting, which was just an amazing forward-thinking decision because ultimately, a lot of those sharks get caught in those devices, globally.


And fast forward another 20 years, they, then, protected sharks, and sharks not rays, only sharks, through the shark sanctuary, where there is no import or export of any shark products. And they've had a bustling ecotourism with shark diving for many years now.


And yes, there are, now and again, a few incidents with these animals. I do think it would be useful to implement maybe a structure to how these dives should be safely carried out, maybe have licenses or permits for shark operators or dive operators like Stewart Cove, like Neil Watson, that do it in a safe way and have been working these areas for a long time, so that you can avoid any of these negative effects.


And I think yeah, it can be a very positive experience for many people. We have extra funding opportunities because of these sharks and because of people wanting to dive with sharks. But yes, that there are key guidelines. And one of the things we do when we snorkel with the sharks, we make sure everyone wears a full wet suit, everyone has gloves on, booties.


And we don't expose any of our skin because your hand flushing with a ring can look like a piece of food or something like that. So you definitely need to be very careful about what you're doing and how you conduct yourself. But I think it can be done in a very sustainable way. That's OK. That's good for the sharks and good for the people too.


LUKE TIPPLE: Sure. And I know yourself and your wife, Annie, have been very passionate about conservation out there, and about spreading awareness of sharks in the situation and also their protection out there. And I have seen recently, I think it was a post from Annie or something, about sharks being targeted by people out there. What is the recourse?


I mean, when you're out there and you see sharks or people that are targeting them for fishing or capturing them one way or another, what is your communication channel to help convey that to authorities and see if there can be repercussions?


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: So what we would do is we would communicate to the different departments, the Department of Marine Resources and the Department of Environmental Protection, which has just been recently established, DEP. And we would then communicate to them. Because the Bahamas have become a lot more aware of research and making sure the permitting process is appropriate. They want to protect these animals that clearly generate a lot for their economy.


And so it really is important that anyone breaking the law gets reprimanded for it and gets the necessary fines. Because clearly, those animals are worth a lot more to the Bahamas alive than they are being fished. And I think it was-- I don't know where it was, someone from the US, potentially, came over. And I think silky shark was what you were talking about.


But yeah, all we can do is deliver that information to the authorities and hope that they will follow it up. I know they take it very seriously. And one of the big things, for us, that's important is having young Bohemians involved, and providing opportunities to bohemians too because there are a lot of young kids that love sharks over there. And it's just a matter of giving them opportunities. And that's what we're hoping to do through our scholarships.


And we've got a project with a chap that's working on swordfish in Andros, where he'll be interviewing the rest of the Bone fishermen and other guides and other water users over there to learn more about their space use and habitat use. And that's something that's really important to me, is trying to empower and inspire those younger kids to take up managerial positions and scientific positions in the Bahamas.


LUKE TIPPLE: Let's think about what's important to you, so great segue way to that. I know that you recently just published, and I'd love you to kind of talk about what research you're doing right now and what papers you've been working on that help us learn more about it, like how you're using your time out there.


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: Well, we actually did just published a paper looking at the impacts of the provisioning in Bimini on the great hammerhead sharks. And what's interesting is although some of these animals are actually getting almost their daily ration, like what they would need to eat per day to survive from the dive operators, and doing that across the winter months, they're still departing on their typical migrations.


And they're going away the whole of those summer months and returning around November, December time. So although they are getting an extra buffet during the winter, it's not keeping them more resident to the areas, they're still going on those migrations. So it's not having too bad an impact on those animals. If anything, it's giving them extra food, potentially, during their gestation period, where they're trying to feed up.


But I do think that there should be some more kind of local management of how much is fed to these animals to try and reduce that impact as well. And one of the big projects we've got is trying to learn more about how these great hammerheads from the US and from the Bahamas are connected.


Is it one big population? Or is there a separate kind of subpopulation of maybe great hammerheads that stick around more in the Bahamas? We've got evidence of one female that stayed the whole of the summer months, which is the first time I've ever seen that.


So there's something else going on there. And that, obviously, have implications for how we can protect them and conserve them moving forward. So that's what we're on at the moment is trying to learn more about migratory pathways of some of these more highly mobile species like the great hammerhead and also the silky sharks too.


LUKE TIPPLE: Yeah. And on that research, which is amazing, by the way, I got to read some of it. And I was like, OK, love that you did this. Because there's so much talk especially in the shark diving industry about either complete no fault, hey, we don't change anything, we don't do anything, these sharks are just wild animals, through to people kind of copping to it and saying oh, there is some change, but we don't know what change really means.


And somebody like yourself comes along and goes, actually, here is scientific data that backs up exactly what's going on, and that we might be having some effect on their behaviors, but not changing the overall perspective and picture of their life cycle, which I think is really the take-home point.


But I'm curious with the developments of that site there. It was Bimini, right, where you did the research on the great hammerheads? So I remember when Tiger Beach really kind started. It was a little before my time, but I was there kind of in the early days as it was being explored as a commercial shark diving location. This is what? 12, 13 years ago now.


And I remember going out there, and it was basically a lemon shark dive. We'd take out cages and everything and no one really knew what was going on with it. And you'd see these tiger sharks come in and they'd be really sketched out. They try to steal our bait boxes. And occasionally, you'd see them. And it was kind of a real mission to see them.


But then as the site developed, I mean, now, we go out there and it's tiger shark heaven, and they'll come up and take bait right out of your hands, obviously, skilled handlers and everything. But it really did develop as a site and you can tell that there is more site fidelity for the tigers at Tiger Beach because they know they're coming there for X reason.


And X reason might be people, might be provisioning, might be whatever. And it seemed to me a similar kind of thing was happening with the great hammerhead because they didn't used to come to that site that frequently, correct?


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: Well, so what's interesting is I was there in 2005 through to 2009 and I never ever got to snorkel or be in the water with a great hammerhead in that whole time period. People have had encounters with them on the flats. I'd seen them. I knew of occasions, where people have got to snorkel with them, but it was very rare, indeed.


And it wasn't until some of the managers decided to kind of start baiting on that drop off on the edge. And every day off, they'd start seeing these hammerheads, and then they put some tags on them, these little external dart tags. And the same individuals would be coming back.


And this kind of when I came back in 2012, I then thought, well, this is an amazing opportunity. We know very little about this animal. It's endangered globally. What's going on? Where are the sharks from? How long do they stick around? All these crazy questions are coming out. And that's when the start of the project went ahead.


And coincidentally, Neil Watson and I think Stewart Cove had been introduced to the site. And they started feeding with the diving protocol similar to Tiger Beach. And yes, it was quite interesting because there's a core group of females, particularly, females that are really dominant, and that basically, know the score.


They come in they, have very distinctive behaviors, how they act, how they feed. I think with those animals, they're basically a little bit more local to Bimini during the winter months than they would normally have been.


They would have been cruising that drop off along the Western edge of the Bahamas bank, probably between the other caves North and South of Bimini. But most likely, they would have been in that area, anyway. And I think the feeding, basically, just localizes them a little bit more.


And what I would suspect happens is that it increases the carrying capacity of the Bimini ecosystem for hammerheads. So there are other hammerheads that are using Bimini now that would probably have been out competed.


And so you basically got more hammerheads that are now using Bimini. Now, what impact it does have on the ecosystem there on the growth rates of these animals and all that type of stuff? I don't really know. But as we said at the start of this, what is good news is that it doesn't seem to be impacting their annual cycle and where they're going to.


We've got evidence of hammerheads from Bimini that have gone to Carolina and Georgia and the Keys, literally every single year, and then come back to Bimini during the winter months. And some of these females are close to 12, 14 feet long, and have been coming back to Bimini every single winter for like eight years.


I mean, it's unbelievable how they actually return to the same place and they use the same sites, even some of these highly mobile animals that you wouldn't expect to do that.


LUKE TIPPLE: It's really interesting to me that you mentioned that, the Bimini now because of the feeding or provisioning, I should say. But it's perhaps even more of a haven for hammerheads. It encourages more to come in and use those waters because you're right. Those bigger ones would be out competing a lot of what's going on. And that might feed into my next thought.


And this is probably almost impossible thing to really study without the data from before. But do you think that it's having any impact on the fish stocks or local marine ecology in not having those hammerheads out there patrolling? Or are the extra ones taking over that role and it's just pretty much the same?


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: Yeah. It's difficult to know that. I mean, one thing we do know is that a lot of these big predators, they don't just have direct consumptive like eating effects on prey, they also have fare effects, where animals will use different habitats or avoid habitats because of the presence of some of these sharks or some of these bigger predators.


There's great examples of that with tiger sharks in Western Australia with various different prey species there. And something similar could be happening here in Bimini with stingrays and other local species too. And the next steps, will be to start to learn more about that. And also, to track some of these individuals that are not provisioned that aren't being fed, but are using Bimini versus the individuals that are provisioned, and then comparing their movement networks and space use and see what the differences are.


And that's something that one of the PhD students, that's just finishing up the Shark Lab now, Vital Heim, is working on, which is really exciting.


LUKE TIPPLE: That sounds like a very broad scale question to have to answer, though.




LUKE TIPPLE: Right how do you even go about that? Obviously, you start small and work your way out. But implying the entire ecosystem use, I mean, that's--


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: Well, at the moment, we're looking at local movements. That's the next.




TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: But we've got information about which animals turned up at the site, how often they'd spend there, how much they would eat. And the next step is OK, well, how will their movements impacted by this provisioning outside of the provisioning dives? Are they more localized than the individuals that are not feeding at the site? And then you start building up that way.


And of course, you can look into taking tissue samples to see if their role within the food web is potentially changing from a provisioned animal versus unprovision. The moment you start a project, there's more questions. You emerge.


LUKE TIPPLE: Yeah. It's planting a tree and watching the roots go like this, right?


SPEAKER 8: It gets pretty [INAUDIBLE].


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: And there's so much variation between individuals and how they respond and how they migrate. When I was working in Bimini, as I said before, we had animals that would migrate North every year. We had some that would go to the Keys. We've now got evidence of one from Andros that's gone all the way into Tampa.


I mean, there's so much variation among these individuals. And it makes it really difficult because you, then, need to start-- we need like 30 or 40 animals to really be able to make any inferences. And they're quite rare animals as it is. So being able to obtain that many is tricky. And it makes it tough to answer these questions, but we need to because the species is globally not doing very well.


I mean, locally, I actually think great hammerheads are hopefully doing OK because of protections in the Bahamas. The US as well has a pretty good shark fishery management in place. And they're very aware of the fact that these hammerheads get caught in long lines.


And at the moment, we're working on a project with fishery managers to try and look at that overlap between where the commercial fisheries are fishing and when they are catching hammerhead versus where the actual hammerheads are. And seeing if we can put in these time place closures to avoid capturing these sharks. And it's the same for scalloped hammerheads too.


So it's really exciting to think that some of the work that we're doing is actually going to really help to manage these animals and to conserve them into the future, so that both our kids can go and swim with great hammerhead sharks.


LUKE TIPPLE: Yeah. I actually look forward to that. I'm going to hit you up for that in just a second. But having just published and done so much work, I mean, I don't know if people really understand how much work goes into what ends up being a paper, that in the life cycle of a scientist, you have to publish or perish right. So what's your next thing? Is it leading on from that research or are you starting up something entirely new?


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: No. And I have a student at the moment that's working pretty hard on all the great hammerhead projects. And they just constantly evolve. You need big teams of people to work with. You need someone that can help with some of the data analysis. You need people that are imaginative and creative when it comes to asking new questions and interpreting some of this analysis and data too. You need people that are good writers.


And obviously, as well, with Saving the Blue, a lot of our funding is generated through the public and through social media and through kind of getting out into the public eye. And I'm lucky that I have a very talented wife who's a photographer and very good at that marketing and business savvy. So we're able to kind of combine our expertise to, then, hopefully, make a big difference for these animals.


LUKE TIPPLE: Well, that's one of the things I love about watching you guys working as a team and also with your students and everything else. But you have set up kind of a way to not only go and see sharks and see all that, but also to piggyback on research and to learn about sharks along the way.


I think that tourism versus scientific tourism is so different. And I love what you guys are doing. So give us a plug for Saving the Blue and what you guys are doing, what people can do with you, what they can learn.


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: Well, I would say, if you're someone that is passionate about sharks and marine life and you just want to have that insight into or be able to help someone, our research projects, you want to learn more about research and sharks, then come on a trip with us. We run these long expeditions.


You don't need to be a marine biology major, you don't need to have-- you don't need to be amazing scuba diver. You don't need to be super fit, either. Like anyone can come and join us on these trips. If you're passionate, if you're motivated, and if you're just interested in learning more about these animals, then you can come and join us.


And you can get in the water with these sharks, as well as contribute to meaningful research that will, hopefully, make a difference for them too. And that's the big thing for us, is making these opportunities accessible to anyone. It doesn't matter what you do, what background you have. You'll always have something that you can help.


I've had some great conversations with people that are not scientists, that are not trained in science, that might be an engineer or even a chef or anything. And they've got something useful that can help me with what I'm trying to do. And it is great to have diverse minds working on these problems and bringing in people from all over the world with different skill sets to help with learning about these animals.


LUKE TIPPLE: And in terms of making it accessible, and this is where I get to hit you up, my four-year-old is absolutely obsessed with hammerheads. She calls them hammer sharks. I can't get her to call it hammerhead yet. But you take kids on these trips as well, right? Because I'm bringing her over and she's snorkeling with a great hammerhead. That's going to happen.


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: I have two children as well, five and seven. And my thing with them has always been if they really want to do it, then I'll do it. I'm more than happy for them to have those experiences as long as they choose to do it.




TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: At the moment, i think the youngest we've maybe had on a trip was 12 or 14. But you can certainly have half day experiential days, where children can get to see these animals too. And that's the big thing that we want to try and do with the children that live in Andros because a lot of them, they don't even know how to swim.


They don't have a swimming pool like we do to go and learn how to swim. They have the ocean. And the ocean is quite an intimidating place to learn how to swim. There's currents, there's waves. It's not easy. So that's something that we're really excited about too, is giving those kids on the islands the opportunity to explore the habitats and animals that are right on their doorstep.


LUKE TIPPLE: Well, I'm definitely bringing over my five-year-old to take part in that. It'd super fun. And hopefully, by then, you healed up a bit. I hear you had a bit of a blue with a shark and threw you back out. What happened there?


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: Yeah, we have a new project, where we're trying to learn more about silky sharks. They're an open ocean species. They travel long distances. And we know very little about them in the Atlantic. And they're also very social. They hang out in schools. And I've always loved behavior of sharks, so they're a species I'm pretty excited about.


And yeah, I was equipping one with a satellite tag on its dorsal fin and I was leaning over and I'm getting old and yeah. And the back went, so I've been bed laden for the last week and a half.


LUKE TIPPLE: Didn't anybody tell you about sharks, being such a dangerous species, like they'll throw you back out like that.


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: I know, exactly.


LUKE TIPPLE: Terrible ideas.


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: [INAUDIBLE] about that. There's no warning on the satellite. I think if you attach me to the shark, remember to wear a back brace and--


LUKE TIPPLE: Seek chiropractic help.


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: Keep your core muscles strong. So yeah.


LUKE TIPPLE: Better that than a bite, then, I guess.


TRISTAN GUTTRIDGE: Exactly. I'd probably prefer a back issue than a bite.


LUKE TIPPLE: Yeah. Well, I hope you heal up well, mate. We'll be seeing you really soon. And thanks for joining us here today. To everyone at home, that's your Daily Bite. Thanks so much for joining us. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get those podcasts. So I'll see you on the next Daily Bite. But until then, happy Shark Week.