Now with overhyped Shark Week behind us, we catch up with Coco Clemens about her work with ACK Sharks and animal conservation.
Name: Conner Clemens
Hometown: Radnor, PA
AR: We've heard the rumors, tell us a bit more about what you do?
CC: I work as an assistant to ACK Sharks. I help him with marketing, product design, charter bookings and most interestingly with his shark fishing research.
AR: You guys do a lot of tagging! What information are you collecting from the sharks that you tag?
CC: We start by documenting sex, length and type of shark. From there, the tags provide tons of valuable data on migration routes, growth patterns, and where the sharks are reproducing. Fun fact: there are more female sharks migrating to Nantucket than males! There really isn't too much research on sharks, education and awareness but they are key to understanding macro ocean conservation factors.
AR: Any stand out memories to date?
CC: Since shark fishing is new to me, I have to say that the first time that I caught a shark is still my favorite memory. We took out a family at 10am and spent the entire day trying to find the right spot. Late in the afternoon we tried a different location, fishing off the back of Elliot's car right at the end of a bluff. We were all just hanging out and the kids were on the back of the car taking pictures when the rod went off. Elliot sprinted up the hill and started to reel in the shark, then handed it off to the kids so they could join the process. Elliot pulled it in and it measured at 71 inches. We tagged him, released him back into the ocean, and the kids settled on naming him Fin. The adrenaline was insane and it was the moment that I realized how cool and important this research is. You never get to see these amazing creatures up close in person. Getting to see the shark that close was unbelievable. Our main purpose is education and for people to understand the importance of conservation. It was so rewarding to give this family an incredible experience and inform them about sharks and ocean conservation. In order to begin tackling (no pun intended) any of these problems is by increasing awareness and education.
AR: I imagine the majority of people on Nantucket hear about what you're up to and take a few steps out of the water... what do you think is the most common misconception about sharks?
CC: The largest misconception about sharks i stat there are more shark attacks than there actually are. You're more likely to get struck by lightening then to get bitten by a shark. There's also a misconception about what we do. We are trying to bring awareness by tagging sharks which in the long run will help better the ecosystem. People think that these creatures are scary, but they are misunderstood and still incredibly unknown.
AR: We are thrilled to have you as part of our Nantucket team! What was your motivation for getting involved with American Rhino?
CC: I studied environmental studies and media society at Hobart and William Smith and had friends who were involved with American Rhino. I thought what they were doing was really cool and interesting, and after I took my own trip to Africa I was completely amazed by the beauty of the continent and animals. When I found out I was heading to Nantucket to work with Elliot and do ocean conservation work, it made sense for me to join the AR Team and join the mission of African wildlife conservation. Rhinos are poached for their horns, sharks are targeted fo rhteir fins... The current estimate is over 100 million sharks a year are killed as commercial by-catch or targeted for their fins. This summer has been a great starting point to put my two interests together. My main goal is for people to learn more about conservation and how there are so many ways to get involved.
AR: Thanks Coco, we'll look out for you on the beach.
CC: Thanks guys!
For more information about ACK Sharks you can follow their summer on Instagram at @acksharks