Gibbs Kuguru Interview for Sharkfest Minorities in Shark Sciences Experts

By 7/26/2022 10:41:00 AM ,

For the 10th annual SHARKFEST, programming can be found across Disney platforms, including Disney+, Hulu, ABC and ESPN, in addition to National Geographic, Nat Geo WILD and Nat Geo MUNDO, offering a deep dive experience for SHARKFEST fans.

Gibbs Kuguru Interview for Sharkfest Episodes with Minorities in Shark Sciences Experts

National Geographic has also partnered with Minorities in Shark Sciences (MISS) to encourage diversity and inclusion in the shark sciences field and inspire the next generation of scientists.

I was able to interview Gibbs Kuguru, a Kenyan shark scientist who studies the DNA of sharks, about his episode and what he wants families to learn about sharks!

How started studying sharks

Gibbs Kuguru: I began working with Sharks in 2012, so just about 10 years ago. I was previously doing a PreMed degree but I wasn't keen about going to med school. I had the option of going diving with sharks. So I decided lets do the shark thing and the rest is history.

I think this is a good life lesson. Sometimes you just have to take a risk. I didn't have any idea about what it will be like or what I would get out of it. Taking that risk gave me the opportunity to do something outside my comfort zone. And I feel in love with it.

Gibbs Kuguru: Sharks gave me that passion and drive to be able to do this type of work.

Which episode as an expert

Gibbs Kuguru Interview for Sharkfest Episodes with Minorities in Shark Sciences Experts

Gibbs Kuguru: I worked on Camo Sharks. This episode is about Shark skin and the different adaptions that shark skin has cause them to behave in different ways. I think this is a really cool look into both the history of the animal but how scientist come up with research questions, in hopes of answering problems in nature.

Through this episode, you see us go out into the field, have some embarrassing moments time to time, but ultimately come out with a win.

Working with National Geographic for SHARKFEST

Gibbs Kuguru: My mentor and co-host on the show, had actually reached out to NatGeo about this idea, which we had in the pipeline for a few years. Working with NatGeo on this project, gave me a steady level of comfort.

Because I knew, that they cared about the Science, you see all the other episodes in SHARKFEST, with actual researchers from a diverse array of backgrounds working on all different types of problems.

What it's like for a black man in a science field?

Gibbs Kuguru: First I'm Kenyan, so I'm African, and I can honestly say anytime I go back home or someone from home talks to me about this, they're like how, are you doing that?! Where did this come from?!

I realized one of the biggest barriers to having more African marine scientist is not enough representation within programs like this, but also the resources allocated for African marine scientist to do this type of work, are few in comparison to what you'd find in other parts of the world.

Gibbs Kuguru: I was really lucky, how I go to my journey, but it didn't come without taking a risk. And just embracing the adventurous spirit. I think that's exactly what you have to do, nothing is promised in this world and in life. You can't give up. You just got to keep going.

What you want families to know about sharks?

Gibbs Kuguru: I'm aware that sharks have a bad reputation and that people are afraid of sharks. I know because I was also afraid of sharks growing up. But one thing that helped me see these animals in a different light, is being able to experience them firsthand.

Then you start to realize that the stories being told about sharks in most of the news and print media is not true. They are wild animals, for sure. But they're not blood thirst man eaters.

I think once you realize they're wild animals, of course there is an element of danger, we learn to live around them, observe them and respect them.

Gibbs Kuguru: The conditions under which I go out to sea, we don't just go out on any given day. We make sure we have the fairest conditions. We make sure we observe the animals before getting in the water with them. Just to make sure everything is alright.

Most of the time, when people have negative shark incidents, it's because they went into an environment, which they didn't understand well. I think that's hugely important, once you understand it.

This collaboration lends MISS experts —

  • Candace Fields, a Ph.D. student studying the population dynamics and geographic population structure of large predators
  • Carlee Jackson, marine biologist, sea turtle conservationist and shark expert
  • and Jasmin Graham, who specializes in elasmobranch ecology and evolution
— as on-screen talent for this year’s SHARKFEST, as well as consultants for programming and development of shows.

5 SHARKFEST Programs for Kid

National Geographic — Premieres July 10 at 10/9c
Disney XD — July 16 at 10/9c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 1 at 9/8c

Can sharks change color at will to enhance their predatory abilities? Through groundbreaking experiments, revered shark biologists answer this evolutionary question. Shark scientists Dr. Ryan Johnson and Ph.D. candidate Gibbs Kuguru hope to capture real-time pigmentation changes to understand how these apex ocean predators manipulate their skin’s dermal cells to activate camouflage.

National Geographic — Premieres July 11 at 9/8c
Disney XD — July 16 at 9/8c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 2 at 9/8c

If you go down to the beach today, you could get a big surprise! Drones are revolutionizing everything that we thought we knew about sharks. And the biggest surprise? That many sharks live closer to our shores than we might like to imagine. It’s time to look behind you; the ocean’s top predator could be much closer than you think!

National Geographic — Premieres July 11 at 10/9c
Disney XD — July 17 at 10/9c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 2 at 10/9c

Every year tiger sharks gather in big numbers in Maui. What’s the cause? It’s a mystery that’s a decade in the making. Now, a team of fearless shark scientists gets hands-on with one of the ocean’s largest predators to find out. That means free diving, face-to-face and unprotected. But these young women will do whatever it takes to get the data they need to crack the case.

National Geographic — Premieres July 13 at 10/9c
Disney XD — July 24 at 10/9c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 7 at 8/7c

Even the biggest, fastest and fiercest predators start as babies. Baby sharks are cute, but they need to grow up fast because out of more than 500 species of sharks, not one parent sticks around to help raise them. Sharks are found in every ocean across the planet and have evolved in extraordinarily different ways to carry their young and give birth and for baby sharks to thrive.

National Geographic — Premieres July 18 at 10/9c
Disney XD — July 24 at 9/8c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 3 at 10/9c

Numerous reports of giant great hammerhead sharks, up to twenty feet in length, have put the actual size potential of this species into question. A team of scientists from Florida International University is now on an expedition off the Florida coast to try and find the world’s biggest hammerhead, taking them from the numerous bridges of the Florida Keys to the sharky waters of the Bahamas.

This year’s lineup offers new original content that dives into details on over 15 different shark species and features footage from all over the world, including the Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica, Australia, Hawaii, South Africa, The Maldives, California, Massachusetts, Maine, Florida and more.

Sharkfest Celebrates 10 Years | National Geographic

This year’s SHARKFEST will make waves with something for everyone — from shark novices to shark stans with content across platforms — including the broadcast premiere of SHARK BEACH WITH CHRIS HEMSWORTH on ABC, kid-friendly programming on Disney XD that includes CAMO SHARKS and MAUI SHARK MYSTERY, and the best of SHARKFEST specials on Hulu.

ESPN is also diving into the fun with the premiere of the ultimate species competition special, GAME OF SHARKS and GREAT WHITE VS. TIGER SHARK. ABC OTV is getting a bite of the action with premieres of the most jaw-dropping specials of the past 10 years in July and August. More accessible than ever, an all-new FAST Channel will have over 80 jaw-dropping episodes available on the ABC app.

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