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Women in Science: Jenny Waack

Updated: Oct 15, 2021

Welcome to Shark Guardian’s Women in Science feature where we highlight the incredible work that women do in shark and ocean conservation around the world. Our next Citizen scientist is Jenny Waack leading conservation efforts in the Galapagos. Without further ado let’s get stuck in!

Q1. Shark and ocean conservation weren’t always your day job. Can you tell us where you started your career, and when was the turning point?

I started my career in Germany as a banker, and whilst I enjoyed the job I sensed there was more to life. I always had the urge to travel, and at 29 I took a three month long sabbatical which turned into me selling everything I owned and going traveling for a year-long sabbatical just before I turned 32. My friends and family thought I’d gone bananas, but many doors opened and I had many experiences, some beautiful and some showing the things we do as humankind that pollute our oceans and earth. Now, four years on life is very different.

Meeting the owner of the Galapagos Whale Shark Project was really the turning point and inspired Galapagos Shark Diving ( I became, and still am, an active member of the Galapagos Whale Shark Project.

Q2. How did you come to be involved with the Galapagos Whale Shark Project (GWSP) project as a team member?

It was on a dive live-aboard when I met my future work colleagues including Jonathan Green, the founder of the GWSP. He had set up the research project ten years earlier and was giving a presentation on whale sharks and how little we know about them. Whilst I had no experience that seemed relevant on the surface, I traded my skills in web design for the opportunity to learn about whale shark research, how to collect data and to support the project even further. Now 5 years later I support the project in web design, reports, fundraising, etc. but also in actual physical work like taking blood and biopsy samples from a whale sharks, photo identification and other tasks done on our yearly field trips.

Q3. Can you tell us about the work that the GWSP do? What data do you collect as part of the project and how has the data been used so far?

When we spot a shark it is in a free-swimming state which means we don’t stop the