I recognize each of them, and I know how many years I have been working with them. Some of my older girls have been here for nearly thirteen years, some come and go as they please, and some only show up once to never come back. It's a vast world out there, and each one of them decides what to do. Some people say I have developed a special relationship with them. I feel they know me and recognize me; we spend several hours per day together.
Their size varies from the smallest at four feet to the biggest at nearly nine feet. We measure them using laser photogrammetry and record their size and growth rate through time. I have named them according to identifying details on their bodies, fins, or eyes. One of the hardest parts of recognizing individual sharks is detecting a unique feature of the animal that won't disappear and heal with time, leaving the sharks without an ID. Their skin heals incredibly well and fast. The names I give are not the most flattering ones. Jokingly my friends tell me that I cannot help them pick a name for their children. Hook, Crook, Stumpy, Scrunchy, Foggy Eye, and Black Spot do not carry dreamy names; however, they are identifiable by even the newest of divers. I hope that if people can identify the sharks as individuals, as creatures, each one different from the other, that it will allow them to feel closer to each animal and ready to learn more about sharks in general. Through my work, I want to create a connection and understanding. We have been able to elevate a polar bear's status to care for animals; I want to reach the same for sharks.