BiOME are delighted to introduce Dr Lauren Smith, a marine biologist who specialises in shark research, as one of our regular authors. Lauren learned to dive in the UK when she was 18 and has since logged dives in countries throughout the world including Thailand, Australia, Hawaii, Philippines, Palau, Maldives, Malta and the Azores.
As a marine biologist Lauren values diving as a way to further her understanding of aquatic life, but also sees it as a way of exploring things such as shipwrecks and caves while enjoying the peace and quiet that comes when you descend below the surface.
WORK AND RESEARCH
Lauren is passionate about all aspects of marine conservation and seeks to preserve and improve the environment for future generations of both Ocean & Land dwellers! Lauren also founded saltwaterlife.
Saltwater Life is a shark research and conservation organisation based in Scotland UK, with project collaborations operating globally.
Sharks are the focal species of Saltwater Life’s founder; Lauren is committed to undertaking and communicating the latest scientific research on these incredible animals. Understanding sharks, their biology, evolution and habitat is vital to their effective conservation and management, which is essential for a healthy marine ecosystem.
Sharks have evolved for over 400 million years, even surviving some of the earth’s greatest mass extinctions. They are superbly adapted to their environment, showing remarkable diversity and variation in physical appearances as well as behaviour. They are intelligent and inquisitive with unique physiology including additional senses, and a unique immune system. They inhabit every ocean on the planet and yet despite this, they are under an ever increasing pressure challenging their ability to survive. WHY?
The commercial practice of shark finning, the incidental capture by fisheries targeting other species (sharks as by-catch), the recreational fishery (shark trophy hunters), the demand for sharks products such as shark liver oil (added to cosmetics and healthcare products) and shark cartilage (touted as a cure for cancer) and the destruction of the aquatic environment. All of these factors are contributing to the rapid decline of shark populations, with an estimated 73 million sharks being killed each year. As most shark species grow slowly, mature late and only give birth to relatively few pups, the population simply cannot sustain such intense fishing pressure, resulting in many species numbers being severely depleted, which in turn recover very slowly if at all. Therefore the need to protect shark species is urgent. Saltwater Life combines the practical aspects of diving and underwater photography with scientific research and grassroots activism to adhere to its mission to Dive, Discover and Defend sharks worldwide.
Saltwater Life is also available to provide specific advice and information to sea users and developers about the conservation status, biology and habitat usage of elasmobranchs (sharks, skates and rays) around the UK coastline which should be assessed in relation to planned projects.
If you would like to get in touch regarding consultancy services or to inquire about research, volunteering or collaborative projects please contact Lauren on; firstname.lastname@example.org