What is your connection to the Shark Lab?
I volunteered at the lab during 2012 and 2013 and due to my relationship with Tristan I have regularly supported them ever since. From bitter cold field nights throughout PIT, exciting sunny days assisting with the labs Jupiter project, to storing the labs fresh food in our fridge and acting as a listen board to lab staff, I help where I can. I support Tristan just as Marie did Doc, although I undeniably lack Marie’s culinary expertise!
Tell us a story about Doc?
Summer 2014, a university course. Walking out to the Sharkpens with my petrified mother asking hundreds of questions such as ‘How many people have been bitten doing this’. Doc replied ‘Oh it almost never happens don’t you worry’. 15 minutes into the shark handling class I watch an arm shoot to the sky with a lemon hanging off of a finger! Doc removed the shark and calmly asked a member of staff ‘You know how to handle this correct? Then please do so, place a rubber glove on his hand and send him back out to finish the lesson’! Long and behold the student did exactly that and the following day swam out (with his rubber glove in the air) to see a Tiger shark that had been caught on a deepline set! In his words ‘it was the best week of my life’.
A university guest once said that Pygmy whales could be mistaken for some sharks. Doc’s no nonsense reply was ‘No, they do not look like sharks, they look exactly like Pygmy whales’.
During a field trip I was riding with Doc at the wheel (of course) and some students, due to the total weight on the boat however we were delayed reaching a plane. In a heartbeat another sharklab boat passed us. Anyone that knows Doc will know that was a mistake! Doc (with the throttle to the metal) and his eyes glued on the competition slowly but surely caught the boat ahead and with students bouncing around the deck yells ‘we’ve got them now’! The boat full of screams and laughter (and the odd bruise) pulled to a halt as Doc sarcastically states ‘we won’ through a giant smile.
Tristan and I decided to take Doc and Marie out for a very special dinner to announce my pregnancy. On announcing it Doc yelped ‘I want to name it, I want to name it’ in a rather busy restaurant!
During the summer of 2013 I observed 5 neonate lemon sharks swimming in the shallows by ‘back beach’. I was thrilled with my discovery and eagerly filmed the babies swimming around my ankles. On returning to the lab Doc noticed the footage being displayed on my laptop and shared my excitement. He was captivated by my videos and through a wide grin murmured ‘that’s so neat’ a number of times. It was in this moment I realised Doc’s infectious love for sharks appeared so fresh and new as if he was viewing neonate lemon sharks for the first time. Doc Gruber is a man who’s been viewing sharks for over 50 years and still till this day shows genuine excitement for something he’s seen a thousand times. I honestly find this truly inspiring and remarkable.
Tell us a story about the Shark Lab?
PIT 2013, The North Sound, the busiest night in Sharklab history with 83 sharks handled that shift. With the food boat arriving just after midnight we were gagging for our supper! My dinner however was rudely interrupted by my stomach notifying me that it wasn’t keen on Jill Brook’s homemade chicken pie! The following days found me soldiering on with PIT night shifts and day gillnet fixing, all whilst being ill. The twist however is that I wasn’t ill, I was pregnant!
‘Sharklab Sharklab Sharklab come back to the longline crew we have a baby hammerhead!’ As the boat crew squealed with excitement and I eagerly pulled in the line I noticed pen marks just below the dorsal fin of the baby hammer, then I noticed what appeared to be the stiffness of rigamortis, THEN I noticed the baby hammerhead was in fact the fibreglass model from the lab! We considered ourselves pranked.
How did meeting Doc and working at the Shark Lab change your life?
The Sharklab changed my life in the most drastic way it could. I went from working full time as an Operations Manager in England to living in Bimini with a Fiancé and daughter! The Sharklab has provided me unforgettable days swimming with my fixated passion, whilst being a mother and a partner to a person who shares my sharktalk until the early hours of the morning. How has the Sharklab changed my life? It’s made my life. Garth Brooks once said ‘You aren’t wealthy until you have something that money can’t buy’, I consider myself wealthy.