I am Alan Henningsen, and I am the Fishes Research Specialist at the National Aquarium, in Baltimore, Maryland. I worked for Dr. Gruber (Sonny) before the days of the Shark Lab, and participated on several research cruises to Bimini. I had the pleasure of learning under Sonny, as a volunteer, work-study student, research assistant, and graduate student. I was very blessed to work with and for Sonny at the Rosenstiel School, in the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and in Egypt and Israel working in the Red Sea. It was amazing to see his enthusiasm and passion for sharks as well as desire to push through conservation measures. Not only is he one of the authorizes on sharks, especially lemon sharks, but was one of the , and perhaps greatest driver as founder of the American Elasmobranch Society and starting engine for the IUCN’s shark pecialist Group.
I learned a lot about sharks and other elasmobranchs from Sonny, and in addition to a mentor, he is a friend as is his wonderful wife Mariko (Marie). There were countless hours spent with both of them. I have seen Sonny in both good days, and bad day. I continue to pray for both Sonny and Mari. My thesis which started out encompassing the entire tagging database for lemon sharks tagged in the Florida Keys and the Bahamas to determine several parameters of population dynamics was refined to estimating biological productivity of three age classes in the North Sound at Bimini, as well as a chapter suggesting ways to census the sharks in the North Sound. It is sonny as well as fellow graduate students John, Brad, and Enrique who encouraged me as I completed the thesis.
When working with Sonny, I had the pleasure of working on several projects involving lemon sharks (and hundreds of lemon sharks from 55 cm neonates up to 290 cm gravid females), as well many other species of elasmobranchs. There are many amusing stories of Sonny, as well as a few amusing pictures.
The time spent working with Sonny and Mari has taught me that sharks and their relatives are a resource to be valued and protected, as well as respected. That being said, I may have a different worldview than him, but greatly respect him. I appreciate the time he spent working with me, and count it a blessing to know him and have him as a mentor/friend in elasmobranchs. I congratulate Bimini biological Field Station as well as Dr. Samuel H. . and Mariko Gruber!