What is your connection to the Shark Lab?
I pre-date the Shark Lab. I was a graduate student of Dr. Gruber’s during 1984-87 and conducted some of my research on the feeding ecology of juvenile lemon sharks in Bimini during that period. At the time we visited Bimini on research vessels from RSMAS (Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science). Later I helped during the summer of 1990, soon after the Bimini Biological Field Station was established, in an Earthwatch project ran by Rocky Strong. In 1994 I also taught a course on elasmobranch biology to French high school students.
Tell us a story about Doc?
There are many stories that his former graduate students could tell… I define Dr. Gruber as the ultimate shark guru. His level of energy and drive was unparalleled, even in the toughest moments of fighting cancer. One particularly funny story I remember, which we probably did not think was so funny at the time was when I first went to Bimini with another fellow graduate student. Dr. Gruber at the time was doing some vision experiments using very large tiger sharks, which he kept in captivity for short periods of time in a holding pen improvised as part of an old derelict barge in South Bimini. I remember Doc asked the other graduate student and me to get in the pen (which you could only access by jumping in from land by the way) and get a rope around the free-swimming tiger shark’s tail. I also remember the water being pretty murky…
Another story that comes to mind about Doc is that we used to say he only knew two speeds when driving a boat: stopped or full throttle…
Tell us a story about the Shark Lab?
As I mentioned I was at the Shark Lab just after its inception and the kinks had yet to be worked out. One thing we often joked about at the time was the quality (or lack thereof) of the food we ate because the person acting as a cook that first summer did not really know how to cook! The other thing that comes to mind is that when we would get back inside the lab after having been outside in the evening or at night, we would do a mosquito check on each other to kill the mosquitoes attached to our backs and other body parts.
How did meeting Doc and working at the Shark Lab change your life?
Doc is the main reason why I continued to work on sharks to this day. He really introduced me to sharks. His passion for sharks is contagious. I miss those special moments in the field.