Feature Friday: Carlee Jackson

Hi, Carlee Jackson! Welcome to ReefBites. 

Twitter and Instagram @CarleeMJ_

Carlee is currently pursuing a Masters in Marine Biology at Nova Southeastern University. Her research looks at the effect of provisioning tourism on nurse sharks in Belize. Read more about Carlee’s work below! 

Give an elevator pitch of what your projects are about.

My master’s thesis title is “Examining the Effects of Provisioning Tourism on Nurse Sharks in Caye Caulker, Belize”.  I am focusing on a small tourism hot spot called Shark Ray Village, where tour guides feed wild nurse sharks and stingrays that live there (termed provisioning tourism). I want to know if there is any alteration in these sharks’ behaviors from typical wild nurse shark behavior, and if they are only coming to this area for food. My research involved a lot of fieldwork, mostly snorkeling!

Why is this project important and timely?

It is always important to understand shark-human interactions, as we are easily the greatest threat to their survival! Tourism is a growing industry, and sharks are becoming more popular in that industry making it essential to figure out how this is affecting them and their environment. 

What is the broader impact and implication of your work?

We often only think of plastic debris, runoff water or oil spills when it comes to how we as humans impact the ocean. My work brings to light how things that bring us enjoyment (e.g. feeding sharks) can influence wildlife both negatively and positively. Understanding this relationship will help make tourism safer for both humans and wildlife.

How did you come to work in this field?

I have loved sharks since I was about 6 years old, and always knew I would work with them!  I did my first work with sharks when I came to grad school, and did my project in Belize when the opportunity presented itself.

What is your top graduate school life hack or survival resource?

Keep a to-do list and a schedule.  Planners and calendars saved my life when I first started!  Having everything written out so that you can see your plan for the week helps you to better manage your time!  Also, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and it is ok to take a mental break sometimes.

Any additional information or comments you would like to share?

I always like to add that I work with sea turtles! I work in a sea turtle hospital and also mark nests on beaches. Sea turtles are my second love and are heavily impacted by climate change and humans.

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