EducationLifestyles

Daring to dive deep

While The Bahamas is a hub for shark research, it is a rarity that there is a Bahamian leading the research – this is something that Candace Fields has always aspired to change. The doctorate degree student at Florida International University (FIU) said her ultimate goal is to be the leading shark scientist in The Bahamas and to put herself in a position to advise future administrations on marine and environmental policy action based in sound science.

“I hope to explore the entire Bahamian archipelago through my research though I would also eventually love to explore all of the ocean basins as I have yet to leave the Atlantic. I am particularly eager to go cage diving in South Africa and hope to check that off of my list at the end of this year.”

Fields was among a team of shark scientists from FIU featured on “World’s Biggest Hammerhead?”, a special aired by Disney, which aims to highlight the critically endangered great hammerhead shark as well as the research one of her lab mates is conducting on this species.

“This work was done in both the Florida Keys and in Bimini. As such, I was given the opportunity to be a part of this show as I am a Bahamian studying shark biology, ecology and conservation, and my role was to speak to sharks and shark conservation in The Bahamas.”

Fields describes the experience as “excellent”.

“This was the first time I had been involved in a film production and it was truly an honor to be able to represent our country. Many shows revolving around sharks take place in The Bahamas but it is very rare that the scientists on screen are actually Bahamian. This was something that was very special for me. Being able to represent the country and highlight the amazing resources that we have and the fact that we are at the forefront of shark conservation globally was the most enjoyable part of the experience for me. Additionally, having the opportunity to work with both of my PhD advisors on this endeavor and having their support was a great opportunity.”

While Fields has always wanted to be a marine biologist, she said it wasn’t always clear that her dream would become a reality. And she said pursuing a doctorate degree at FIU would not have been possible without the support and mentorships she received while working at the Cape Eleuthera Institute.

“My path to a career in marine biology was not a simple one – and, in fact, my bachelor’s degree is actually in neuroscience, however, I would not change a thing about the process of getting to where I am today. Having a diverse background and being knowledgeable in a plethora of topics has benefited me greatly during my PhD thus far.”

Fields hopes to finish her dissertation and graduate in the spring of 2026.

Her work focuses on the oceanic whitetip shark which is a pelagic (open ocean) predator that was once globally abundant but is now critically endangered.

“All of my work will aid in the conservation via the investigation population dynamics of the species through genetic analyses and movement and behavioral ecology.”

For as long as she can remember, Fields said she has had a love and appreciation for the ocean. The daughter of Michelle and Ed Fields said her parents often took her to the beach as a youngster which helped foster her understanding of how lucky Bahamians are to have the access to the incredible resource.

“I think most of my fascination is in the unknown and the many misconceptions that people have about the ocean and its inhabitants – especially sharks,” she said.

She followed her passion.

The best advice she said she can give to others is to remember that it’s never too late, and that there’s more than one right way to find their way into the field that they love.

“If you find that you love what you do, regardless of any awards or accolades you may receive, it is likely you are doing something you are passionate about.”

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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