Thursday, August 8, 2013

Shark Week (and Reflection on Hard Work)

I know it's almost over, but I've been meaning to write SOMETHING in honor of Shark Week. It's been really busy at work, and I've come home every day absolutely exhausted because -no lie- at least 2 hours of my shift has been dedicated to dancing around in a shark costume.

I have never felt more fulfilled in my life. 

Anyway, I love shark week. I really do. Sharks are some of the most beautiful, graceful, efficient animals this planet has ever seen, and it hurts me to no end that they get such a bad rap. Now, I realize I could spend this post spewing statistics on how one is more likely to be struck by lightening twice than to be horrifically attacked by a shark, but that information is out there. The media fails to report it in favor of talking about AIR JAWS or LAND SHARKS: TERRESTRIAL MENACE? or whatever nonsense, but there's lots of solid information out there that can alleviate fears much better than I can. Plus, most of the people reading this know me in real life and hear me on my shark soap-box enough as it is. Take away message: sharks are our friends, guys. These apex predators can't do their thing to keep the ocean in balance if we're eating them in soup, okay? 

No, I'd rather talk about how disappointed I am in the Discovery Channel going the way of the History Channel and TLC - they used to give out information that made us want to, you know, discover. For ourselves. And now, it's Megalodon mockumenturies and shark attacks around the clock. It's great to revel in the pulp horror of the beasts from the sea fantasy (I mean, Sharknado. Sharknado!), but intersperse it with some scientific research, a show about how these predators are perfect at what they do, or about conservation. Use that air time to make people care

National Geographic Wild took the initiative to celebrate SharkFest this week as well (after all, one channel doesn't have a monopoly on the animal). I don't get the channel, so I haven't been able to watch, but from what I understand it's based more on informative, educational programming. Edutainment, if you will. If anyone has seen any of their programming, please let me know what you thought. 

Today, my friend Laura had an awesome Google Hangout with some people from the University of Rhode Island about sharks. I really recommend giving the video a watch - it's always neat to hear different experts give different insights - in this case, biomechanics, behavior, locomotion, and issues behind keeping sharks in captivity. 

Watching this was not only great because I was able to watch a friend be totally amazing, but I've also been really thinking seriously (finally, seriously!) about grad school. I'd love to go into shark behavior - I think it's a new frontier for research, and a field that's largely ignored. It'd be amazing to get involved with shark behavioral ecology research. The one thing holding me back is my desire to work with terrestrial species as well - I'm interested in too many things. Anyway, reflecting on this reminded me of my 15 minutes of fame when I was featured in the University of Tampa Alumni Journal in an article about internships during college.

Look at me being a total shark badass on pages 1 and 6. Now, you may be wondering where the hard work aspect of the post title comes in - well, here it is. Hopefully you've been following Andrew's hiking progress as he works towards a healthier lifestyle . I know all too well how tough it can be to make those changes, and Andrew continues to amaze me every day with his commitment, even as I fall off the bandwagon temporarily. The only thing I hate about the article is how chubby I am in those pictures - and I was. I'm not fishing (lol) for compliments or reassurance; it's the truth. I had spent the year before working out nearly every day, lost a lot of weight and really toned up, and then I moved closer to a burrito place and figured my body would stay healthy on it's own - after all, I worked so hard, right? I learned the hard way that the weight DOES come back. I'm still working that weight off, two years later. I hate that in being recognized for something I had worked so hard on, and was so proud of, I failed my body. I've since lost 25-30 pounds from that all time high. As I'm working on making healthier lifestyle changes, and as I'm starting to move forward again with my life - whether it's grad school, work, or whatever else, I've found that I'm inspired by many things - sharks swimming in the ocean, brothers being good role models, the possibilities of life, and the determination to make changes that have positive impacts not just for myself but for the world. I'm proud of how far I've come, and I hope to keep this momentum up so that it radiates into everything else I do in life. By taking the time to care for myself, it means in the long run I can spend even more time for things that matter on a global scale; like sharks. Like everything in life, it may be hard work, but it will pay off more than one could ever dream of. 

Happy Shark Week, everyone; please be kind to yourselves, and be kind to our fangorious friends. 

1 comment :

  1. You go, girl! Yay sharks!

    Okay, seriously, grad school:
    I don't know if yours would work the same as my experience, our fields being so different (but at least you don't work in math, amiright??), but this is what I learned in grad school:

    There are enough requirements that force a student to dip their toes into lots of things, which ends up being a good way of determining what you really like, what you "just" like, and what you really don't like. You can then further explore the "really like" with the not-required-but-still-need-to-graduate courses and electives.
    So maybe you could determine a "favorite" between sharks and other terrestrial species? I hope that makes sense.

    Yay sharks! (Y'know, I never got to wear the shark costume. Oh well.)