Corey Eddy didn't grow up loving the ocean. He couldn't stand the smell of the sea! But, he did love snorkeling in freshwater, Jacques Cousteau books and films, and had been a little obsessed with sharks as a kid. Read about how he ended up where he is now with TFUI.
The Fins United Initiative: First off: why did you choose marine biology as your career path? Were you always interested in science?
Corey Eddy: Well, its a bit of a circuitous story. I didn't grow up loving the ocean, as many people in my shoes may say. Honestly, I couldn't stand the smell of the sea, but I did love snorkeling in freshwater, Jacques Cousteau books and films, and I had been a little obsessed with sharks as a kid. In my sixth or seventh year into an extended leave of absence from college, I started reading books about the environment, especially about shark conservation. I was working as a carpenter at the time, but thinking about finishing my bachelors degree. After reading The Shark Chronicles by Jack Musick, I realized shark science was actually a possible career and decided right then to go back to school and ultimately get my PhD.
TFUI: What are you currently studying right now?
CE: At the moment, I'm finishing up a handful of lionfish papers from my dissertation that I hope to publish this year and working on a project studying the reproductive biology of a few species of baitfish in Bermuda. I'm trying to find a job and some funding to support a few projects: movement patterns of lionfish in Bermuda, movement patterns of juvenile Galapagos sharks around Bermuda, migration patterns of adult Galapagos sharks in the Sargasso Sea, and stable isotope ecology of baitfish in Bermuda.
TFUI: Your research revolves around the biology and ecology of sharks and lionfish. Can you explain to the TFUI audience what exactly that all means?
CE: Well, I'm really interested in how species interact with and influence other species in the ecosystem, especially big predators like sharks and invasive species like the lionfish. I'm also really interested in conserving important species, like sharks that are vulnerable to overfishing and whose populations may not be very healthy. With that in mind, biology (growth rates, longevity, reproductive biology, etc) combined with feeding ecology, help us to understand those ecological interactions.
TFUI: Do you also look at the relationships between sharks and lionfish? If so, what have you found?
CE: I haven't had a chance to do much with the relationship between sharks and lionfish, although I did include a bit of the stable isotope ecology of both in my dissertation. Unfortunately, that's the big time stuff in one of my papers, so I can't really get into the details.
TFUI: Why is your work so important?
CE: I think my work is important because by understanding the interactions of species and the way they influence the ecosystem, we have the necessary information to protect species and preserve the marine environment.
TFUI: What has been your toughest experience out on the field or lab?
CE: Without a doubt, the toughest part of being in the field is that I sometimes get seasick, which is pretty embarrassing to admit. It never slows me down or interferes with the job though. I just cough up a bit of breakfast and get to work, diving or fishing. It's never fun obviously, but once I catch my breath and get moving, everything is fine and the work goes ahead without any problems.
TFUI: Do you see a difference in attitude between the USA and Bermuda in regards to ocean conservation? What about in attitude towards elasmobranchs?
CE: That's a tough call to make. By default, most people in my circle of friends and colleagues care about ocean conservation, but I suppose it could be said that more Bermudians care than Americans. I guess its hard not to when you're never more than 1000 feet from the ocean. I think in the US, too many people are disconnected from the sea and don't know too much about it. There isn't the same sense of stewardship. I suppose the same could be said for elasmos. A greater portion of the population supports ocean and elasmo conservation.
TFUI: Was your research disrupted by the 2017 hurricanes? If so, in what way?
CE: Not the 2017 hurricanes, no, because my work was done, but definitely hurricanes Gonzalo and Fay in 2014. I had captive lionfish in tanks set up outside at Bermuda Fisheries. I was supposed to leave the island the Friday before Gonzalo, but had to stay to take care of the fish. We moved them into a temporary aquarium that we set up in the workshop, then moved them back after the storm passed. Everything was ok though and it was pretty cool to experience a direct hit from that storm.
TFUI: What is your whackiest "in the field" story?
CE: Nothing terribly wacky has ever really happened. One time when testing experimental lionfish traps with Bermuda Fisheries, we spotted a big hammerhead cruising the surface and, in our excitement to run out on deck for a closer look, my friend Chris and I got stuck in the doorway for a second, like in an episode of the Three Stooges.
TFUI: What has been the coolest encounter with a shark (or other Chondrichthyan) that you've had?
CE: I suppose the coolest encounter was just seeing baby white sharks last summer when I was helping my friend, Tobey Curtis, with his work on Ocearch. It's crazy to imagine these wee little five-foot sharks growing up to be somewhere around 20 feet and 2000 lbs.
TFUI: What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
CE: I really enjoy community outreach and have been very lucky to do quite a bit in Bermuda. I helped create and still manage the Bermuda Lionfish Culling Program, which gave me the opportunity to work closely with the people involved in their lionfish movement. I also run Bermuda's Winter Lionfish Derby, which is a lot of fun. I suppose being a part of that community and knowing I've had an impact on it is the most rewarding thing about my job so far.
TFUI: What’s next for you?
CE: I've got to find a job. Are you hiring?
THE FINS UNITED INITIATIVE WOULD LIKE TO THANK corey FOR His TIME AND
TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
SEE MELISSA'S TEDx TALK HERE:
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