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Shark Week Interview: Gador Muntaner Lopez

〰️Gador Muntaner Lopez〰️

@gadormunta (Marine Scientist and Oceanographer, Freediver and Scuba Dive Instructor, Shark Researcher and Conservationist)

 1. What led to your passion for sharks?

I put on a mask and a pair of fins at 3 years old and fell in love with the ocean since then. At 16 years old when I saw my first shark, in Maldives, during my open water course. It was love at first sight. I knew I was in front of a wonder of nature and evolution, a perfect and fascinating predator.  I could only feel tones of admiration and I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to get to know more about these creatures. 

2. What was your most memorable shark encounter?

It’s really difficult to choose one. But the first time I saw a Tiger shark is a favorite. It was during a filming expedition to Revillagigedo Islands. We were only expecting silvertip and silky sharks for that dive. I was the first one in the water and I was waiting for my buddy kneeling down on a rock when I turned my head and a beautiful and big female tiger shark was passing by, just 1 meter away, right in front of me! She came towards me a few more times during the dive, not paying attention to the other divers! I like to think that it was because we were the only two females there!

3. What is one common misconception about sharks that you personally have seen otherwise?

Some people think that sharks are not intelligent due to it’s small brain size. But their senses are so incredibly developed that they are really smart and can actually remember and learn. Some White sharks from Guadalupe Island change the method when they fail trying to get the bait. Sometimes they come from underneath our speedboat to make sure we don’t see them and steal the bait!

4. Why do you think it is important to support shark research and conservation?

Sharks play an essential role in marine ecosystems by controling their prey’s populations. We need sharks on our planet, and now they need us to speak for them and protect them. But as Cousteau said, we only protect what we love, and we love what we know. Shark research and conservation provide us enough knowledge to be able to understand and love sharks, in order to preserve them.

Taylor Cunningham