ABOUT THE SHARK SIDE AND ITS FOUNDER - TYLER MACE
Summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school, COVID hit the world - and I found myself with the time to make my dream of creating an organization to support sharks and the ocean ecosystem a reality.
When I was very young, my mother would tint my bathwater blue, and I would take a bath wearing my mask and snorkel with all my plastic sea animal friends. As I got older, I discovered Bass Masters, River Monsters, and Shark Week on TV. My fascination with ocean life, and sharks in particular, grew. In 5th grade, I wrote my first nonfiction essay and chose to write about bull sharks. For my 10th birthday, I begged to go cage diving and got my first up-close shark experience diving in an aquarium with sharks. My only disappointment was that none of the sharks came at me gaping, with their mouths wide open. Even my room is decorated with a giant cardboard shark emerging from behind my headboard.
I started working with Dr. Craig O'Connell from O'Seas Conservation Foundation (www.oseasfdn.org) when I was 11. I began as a camper in his summer camp, which gives kids the opportunity to experience shark research firsthand. After my first summer, I was hooked and knew I wanted to be just like Dr. O'Connell. I cannot imagine a better mentor than Dr. O'Connell, who saw my love and passion for sharks and took me under his wing. In 2018, I accompanied him to Guadalupe Island in Mexico to help on a research project, but also to dive with the largest and most majestic great white sharks. I was all of 13 years old. Later, I became the first-ever O'Seas Research Fellow and have been fortunate to have a relationship with Dr. O'Connell ever since.
Summer of 2020, I was included in a Shark Week shoot and appeared in the "Sharkadelic Summer" episode looking for great white sharks off Montauk, NY. I also attended the University of Miami's Summer Scholars Program for marine biology and learned from two more top researchers: Dr. Neil Hammerschlag and Dr. Chris Langdon. Later in August, I worked with Dr. O’Connell and two more top shark scientists, Dr. Greg Skomal of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and Dr. Jon Dodd of The Atlantic Shark Institute in Rhode Island, on a five-year study of juvenile great white sharks in NY. We are tagging juvenile great whites, taking tissue samples and then releasing them with the goal of better understanding their development.
It is essential we work to understand and protect these amazing, intelligent and essential creatures. So little is known about sharks and what is happening in the oceans that cover 70% of our Earth's surface.
Last summer, I worked in Florida with another program as a research scientist helping tag, track and record information about sharks and rays on the Gulf Coast. I learned a lot and hope our research will help preserve the animals in the Gulf area. I was also chosen as a "Teen to Watch" by Moffly Media for my work as well as my academic, athletic, musical and other involvements. I am honored by this award and will continue to try to be worthy of this high distinction.
Next year, I will be attending the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami and plan to earn my BSMAS in Marine Biology and Ecology. I will continue to focus on shark research and conservation and hope to make a difference for these amazing animals.
The Shark Side is raising funds to support shark and marine biology research projects to help achieve our goal of helping shark conservation and research. Won't you please help us?