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 In this Section:  In the Spotlight News

List of "In the Spotlight" Features

Spotlight On: Todd Gedamke

Todd is gearing up for National Geographic's Loggerhead Investigation! Our student expert teams will be making recommendations to the National Marine Fisheries Service on the revisions to the 25-Year Executive Summary for Loggerhead Turtles. Todd writes: "The course of my life has been a natural progression from an excited ten-year-old exploring the marshes of the Long Island Sound to a biologist committed to researching and teaching others about important ecological issues. My personal exploration into the marine environment began soon after I could swim and has evolved from answering the initial physical and visual questions raised by a young student to the more complicated issues that include biological, political and human interactions. My passion has grown from knowledge and experience, but my need to question and my thirst for answers has remained constant.

I started my formal exploration at Colgate University as a biology major. I gained a solid background in biology, oceanographic concepts and techniques and was able to land my first job as a marine education intern for the University of Georgia. For seven years I continued to build upon my childhood experiences, complement my academic training, and contribute to research, conservation, and educational efforts in various capacities. I gained priceless hands-on experience working as an assistant curator in an aquarium in Georgia, as a fisheries observer on commercial vessels (some were capable of catching 1million lbs. of fish a day) in Alaska, as the director of a Loggerhead sea turtle research project in Georgia, and with Hawksbill sea turtles in Antigua.

Four years ago I returned to school and began a graduate program at William and Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science. My research has focused on the commercial scallop fishery in an area 200 miles off the coast of Cape Cod. In 1999, a 1,100 nm2 of this region was re-opened to the United States scallop fleet after being closed to all fishing for 5 years. The purpose of my study is to use the unique opportunity of this opening to understand the dynamics of commercial fishing practices.

Satellite tracking of the vessels in the fleet was used to determine where boats were fishing while catch and catch compositions were recorded from onboard vessels. The concept behind my work is fairly intuitive and in its simplest form states that as more scallops are removed from an area it will take more effort to catch the same amount. A mathematical analysis of the change in catch rates will provide insights as to the total scallop population prior to fishing and some fundamental information about how the commercial scallop fleet operates. This information can then be used by fisheries managers to guide future openings and assist in the rebuilding of the scallop stocks in the North Atlantic.

Over the years I have developed a practical research philosophy that involves directing and utilizing the results of research to minimize the increasing conflict between the growth of our society and marine life. In my past research I have not only tried to shed light on life histories, migration patterns and man-made environmental factors affecting protected species but also tried to suggest techniques and compromises to allow research and development to work hand in hand. Ultimately, as an educator, I want to see the knowledge of the field reflected in the eyes of my students and, as a researcher, perhaps even touch a small part of society as a whole.

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