Sabbatical April 2010 Introductory Info

The following information and subsequent blogs were originally featured on:

Dr Lauren E. Smith is a marine biologist who specialises in shark research; she is a keen surfer, freediver and SCUBA diver and loves nothing more than to combine these activities with her passion for sharks.

Lauren says:
Sharks have evolved for over 400 million years, surviving some of the earth’s greatest mass extinctions. They are superbly adapted to their environment: apex predators, intelligent with unique immune systems and yet for all this perfection they are vulnerable particularly to the actions of man.

Therefore I believe that the key way to save these animals is through education; through informed understanding, misrepresentation and fears can be replaced with appreciation, respect and compassion.

It is for these reasons that I have taken a 3 month sabbatical from my current research position based in the North East of Scotland in the UK, and am heading off to the Philippines for as many shark based activities as possible!

The primary reason for me choosing the Philippines is because it is home to a well established shark research laboratory, with an excellent reputation the – Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project (TSRCP), based on Malapascua Island, off the North East tip of Cebu, where I will be working for 2 months. The TSRCP’s mission statement is as follows:
“To promote and disseminate shark research, education and conservation to a broad local, regional and international public and scientific outreach”.
A statement that I fully endorse and follow when conducting my own shark research.

Please visit the TSRCP page on this site as well as the official website ( for further information.

During my stay in the Philippines I will also be going to visit the whale sharks that descend on the waters of Donsol, located at the Southern tip of Luzon Island for December to May each year. Here I will be getting in the water with the whale sharks and meeting with employees of Donsol EcoTour ( to find out more about the whale sharks, with a view to developing future research possibilities.

During the first week of June I will be flying to the Republic of Palau, 500 miles east of the Philippines for a 2-week stay. Palau is made up of over 300 volcanic and coral islands, it attracted a lot of media attention in September of last year when it effectively created the worlds first ‘shark sanctuary’ after banning all commercial shark fishing in it’s waters. Here I will be SCUBA diving and freediving and hopefully in doing so observing yet more shark’s in their natural environment.