Shark Week

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If there’s one thing the past five Sharknado’s and countless Shark Week specials have taught us, it’s that America loves sharks. One student however, has taken her love of sharks to a whole new level.
Junior Rachel Crum has studied sharks, ocean ecology and even taken a class on ecology in South Africa. In addition, she has led countless initiatives with aquariums all across the East Coast where she fights for the preservation of shark habitats.
In the summer of 2015 she started working with the Baltimore Aquarium. There she meets with their husbandry expert. She also helps recruit students for their internship programs and later hopes to join an internship with the Baltimore Aquarium.
In addition to working with the Baltimore aquarium directly, she started a charity for ocean conservation. They raise funds to give to aquariums and facilities while also maintaining a youtube page. On it they post videos about marine conservation and more specific videos about sharks.
“Most of [the fundraising] is online based and its mostly word of mouth for now,” Crum said, “We want to eventually sponsor [events],”.
To further her understanding of marine ecology, she attended a class in South Africa where she went cage diving with great whites. She also helped determine the gender of the sharks. While there she also worked with a variety of ecologists including one that had a show on shark week. Cage diving allowed her an opportunity to experience great whites up close and personal, where she witnessed their grace and beauty,
“I’ve always liked the ocean and I just think they have a nice grace to them that most people don’t get,” Crum said,
“They’re just really misunderstood,”.
While cage diving in South Africa, she was able to experience a great white shark up close and personal,
“The second everybody left [the cage, the shark] came at the bait and i was the only person in there, it was just like really cool” Crum said.
Luckily, after much research and experience she has little fear of sharks. She has dealt with sand tiger sharks, nurse sharks, ragged tooth sharks. She frequently works with nurse, tiger and great white sharks.
In order to gain experience working with sharks and network for her charity, shes met with head employees at the Maui Aquarium, Boston Aquarium and the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Her personal favorite is the Georgia aquarium.
“[In their large ocean tank] they have whale sharks which was really cool, its interesting to witness them in captivity” Crum said.
Her conservation acts may sound daunting and the amount of work it takes to get into the field may seem extensive, but joining the cause isn’t as complicated as it seems. Crum started her work with a single email to the Baltimore Aquarium.
All kinds of conservation is important,
however people often gravitate towards more publicized issues about megafauna (large or giant animals) when it comes to protecting wildlife.
“You always see the picture of the polar bear on the little ice cap in the middle of the ocean,” Crum said, “A lot of people dont really care about sharks in general, cause they’re scary.”
Unfortunately because of movies like Jaws and high profile shark attacks being broadcasted on the news throughout the summer, sharks often recieve a bad rap. Crum fights to protect these predators from fishers and the multitude of threats that affect sharks.
“In general, if you were to take all of one thing out of an ecosystem, somethings going to go out of wack and then everythings gonna be affected from there” Crum said.

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