What is your connection to the Shark Lab?
I spent about 8 months at the Shark Lab collecting data for my master thesis in 1996-1997. The connection was made between my professor Sverre Sjölander at Linköping University, who knew Doc since many years. Sverre thought it a good idea if I went to the Shark Lab since I had shown a keen interest in his courses and was especially fond of fish. I arrived at the Shark Lab in Nov 96 and was pretty lost. First time abroad by myself and with no prior experience working in a subtropical environment. I was supposed to be the student principal investigator, but I had much to learn so it wasn’t until after some 2-3 months that I felt I knew what was going on. I stayed until mid-June 1997 before heading back to Sweden and finishing up my thesis.
Tell us a story about Doc?
One of my best stories to tell about working with Doc was when we were setting long-lines. Doc would always drive the boat and then three volunteers would hand out the long-line, clip on hooks, and bait hooks before throwing the whole package over-board. Now this can be achieved at different speeds. For most of us there would be an optimal speed where everything would run smooth but without taking too long. For Doc, however, setting long-lines was always a challenge, in seeing how fast he could drive the boat and still have the volunteers keeping up. So each time we would fail at some point as it was part of Doc’s plan. And every time Doc would have to stop the boat, and he would start to yelling and swearing that we couldn’t keep up. And every new volunteer would freak out and be scared of him. And every experienced volunteers would remain calm and laugh smugly as the history kept repeating itself every time.
Tell us a story about the Shark Lab?
For me, Bimini appeared to be a different world. When I left Sweden in November, it was minus 10 C and it had just snowed, and as I arrived in Bimini I was hit by the warm air and scorching sun. Now I would live here for months together with people from around the world. The first thing we did upon my arrival was to go and release a 3 m long tiger shark that had been captured the night before. Swimming with this shark seemed like crazy, but since everyone else jumped into the water I thought I must too. It was only when I was swimming close behind the tiger and it all of a sudden turned around and faced me that I was truly scared, but it seemed to ignore me and luckily I survived to do my work at the lab.
How did meeting Doc and working at the Shark Lab change your life?
My experience at the lab and working with Doc has truly affected my career. I was able to write a scientific paper that literally was the tipping point in my favor that landed me a PhD-position during a period when such positions were really in short supply. So certainly, Doc has made an impact in my career. The Shark Lab has also been very important even if less obvious. I learned so much about myself and about boats and research which has helped me both in my professional and private life. And of course, I have the connection with many people around the world.