Stay connected with us
around the nation »

The Shark Files—Up Close and Personal with a NOAA Shark Scientist

Trey Driggers (left) examines a tiger shark.  

Bull shark.

Gulper shark embryo. 

Shark Adventures with Teacher at Sea

Dig this drawing? There's more where that came from. Check out The ABCs of Sharks.

August 9, 2012

Trey Driggers visits Teacher at Sea Jennifer Daftari's fifth graders in Jay, OK to tell them all about sharks.

Meet Dr. William “Trey” Driggers, a NOAA Fisheries shark scientist who will be our guest for a @NOAALive tweet chat:

Thursday, August 16
@ 2pm EST

Please join us to ask Trey anything you want to know about sharks

Why should people care about sharks?

Sharks are absolutely vital to the health of the ecosystems they inhabit. Additionally, some shark species represent an important resource for the commercial and recreational fishing communities.   

Tell us about a day in your life as a shark scientist.

My job is to monitor trends in abundance of coastal sharks in U.S. waters off the East Coast and throughout the northern Gulf of Mexico. To do this, my colleagues and I spend a couple of months each year setting and retrieving longline gear from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to Brownsville, Texas. The resulting data are used by stock assessment analysts to determine if population levels are increasing, decreasing, or remaining constant. Other areas of my research include examining the behavior, distribution, growth, habitat utilization, and reproduction of sharks.

What are some of your most memorable shark encounters?

My most memorable moment as a shark biologist was on the back deck of a NOAA research vessel when a younger biologist asked me a similar question. I told her that seeing a live bioluminescent lantern shark lit up with brilliant green and purple markings was one of my top moments. 

Even more incredible though, was seeing a live spined pygmy shark the year before. Fewer than 100 of this deep water shark species had ever been recorded globally. As we were speaking the trawl was coming on deck with 24 live spined pygmy sharks hanging out of the webbing. While a shark with a maximum size roughly the length of an adult’s hand might not inspire a novel, this was an intense moment for a shark geek.

You worked with Teacher at Sea Jennifer Daftari aboard the Oregon II earlier this year and then later traveled to visit her 5th grade class in Jay, Oklahoma. What was that like? 

As part of the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program, Ms. Daftari participated in our annual shark survey last year. On that NOAA research cruise, she and my colleague Kristin Hannan came up with the idea of having her students create a coloring book titled, “The ABC’s of Sharks.” 

Months later, Kristin and I saw the nearly completed book and were excited about how great a job the students did with their background research and marveled at the wonderful illustrations. Luckily, Kristin and I were invited to Jay and got to meet the students in person. We had a great time hanging out with them. Kristin and I feel very fortunate to have so many new friends.

Still curious about sharks? 
To learn more about these amazing creatures, join the conversation and ask Trey your questions. 

Thursday, August 16
2:00pm EST

Tweet your questions to @NOAALive
tag #sharkchat