As summer draws to a close, and and we welcome hurricane season slightly earlier than we did last year, we also say goodbye to a staple member of our community here on Eleuthera. Dr. Owen O’Shea has been with us for the last four years and two months, dedicating his time, energy and passion to the pursuit of applied marine research and the education of students; international and domestic alike. Owen first joined us in the summer of 2013 as Research Associate for the Shark Research and Conservation Program – his first professional appointment having completed his PhD in November 2012. He soon established an applied stingray research program in 2014, that aimed to use stingrays as a conduit in the promotion of ecological and conservation value for coastal and nearshore ecosystems throughout The Bahamas. This has been an intense, ongoing and highly productive element to CEI’s research portfolio, attracting graduate students and educational programs from all over the world to come and work with him.
Previously, Owen had lectured and coordinated undergraduate labs at various universities he was affiliated with but had never assumed a formal educational role, though he always felt he had been educating in a passive manner due to the enthusiasm that is tangible when you work with him. The Cape Eleuthera Institute and Island School gave him the platform to lead young scientists in the field and ‘teach’ applied marine research for 13 consecutive semesters. Owen has managed to impact the lives of thousands of students, parents and educators through exposure to his research. What has motivated him the most, is how he’s been able to use this opportunity to realign perceptions of stingrays and contribute to our understanding of them, their processes and ecosystem contributions. He has been able to do this through several international conference presentations and published research papers during his tenure. Owen reflects that one of the more satisfying elements of his work here was the ‘re-discovery’ of the Atlantic chupare or Caribbean whiptail stingray (Styracura schmardae). This paper was just published in the Caribbean Naturalist Journal describing its contemporary distribution and can be accessed here.
While staff and faculty of The CEIS family, plus all of the students, families and school groups he has been involved with will sincerely miss Owen; he is going on to exciting new pastures. We wish him tremendous luck and success as he begins his own research initiative. You can follow his progress at www.coresciences.org and contact him directly through his website or firstname.lastname@example.org.