Charlotte Payne came as a research experience guest and she would like to share some memories from this short experience meeting Doc…

“I was feeling slightly nervous when I was sat in the lounge at Miami Executive airport, waiting to board my flight to Bimini. Despite a longterm love for sharks, I had never seen one in the wild before and I had a mixture of emotions. My mum, sister and nephew, who was only 6 months old at the time, had also taken the long drive from Tampa to Miami with me.

As soon as Doc entered the lounge, you could feel his presence. Absolutely bursting at the seams with energy and life; he had us all at hello. We sat for about 15 minutes, captivated as we listened to his numerous stories, laughing the entire time. He reassured my mum: ‘do not worry, mom, we will have her in the water with about ten sharks within 45 minutes of landing.‘ I was so disappointed when I learnt he would not be boarding that flight with us.

However, we were treated to his presence once again when we arrived back in Miami after our trip, all beaming from ear to ear after having such a life-changing five days with the BBFS. He took us on a little tour of the airport – he had a tale for absolutely everything! As we approached the main carpark, he was then greeted by my nephew, dressed as a shark! Just like me, he must have captured the hearts of my mum and sister too – enough for them to purchase a fancy-dress shark costume, at least. We rolled about laughing, as Doc asked for us to take photos of him and the shark-baby, leaving my sister no time to explain that on the long drive, the baby had run out of diapers… We were all silently praying that he didn’t pee all over Doc!

It is not every day you meet someone as inspirational as Doc and even though my time with him was short, he has had a lasting impact on my life and I will always hold the BBFS close to my heart and love the work they do there. I cannot wait to go back.”