Born in Jackson, Michigan, Nick Whitney grew up knowing one thing about sharks: they eat you. After spending a lot of time sunbathing and bird-watching (instead of going into the water) on family vacations, Nick finally started reading about sharks to learn if there was a way to enjoy the water without becoming a meal.
By the time he graduated high school, Nick was a shark nut and an aspiring marine biologist. This made Albion College an obvious choice. As an undergraduate at Albion, Nick worked with Dr. Jeffrey Carrier studying nurse sharks in the Florida Keys for three summers.
After graduating from Albion in 2000, Nick pursued his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he began developing the use of a new tool — accelerometers to study shark behavior.
These devices can sense sharks’ fine-scale movements, measuring with great precision how they swim, tilt, roll, and dive. These tags use the same technology found in your Fitbit or smartphone to find out what sharks are actually doing, instead of just tracking where they are going like traditional tags.
Whitney was the first to publish accelerometer research on wild sharks and has since used the tags on white sharks, sea turtles, Burmese pythons, and several other species. He has published numerous scientific papers, popular magazine articles and shark articles for World Book Encyclopedia Online. He has appeared on the History Channel, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic Channel, and received the “Top Ten in Ten” Young Alumni Award from Albion College in 2010.
Nick is a Senior Scientist with the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at New England Aquarium and is in residence at Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky. He lives in Cincinnati, OH with his wife of 16 years, Holli (’99), their two boys (ages 10 and 7), and a 2-yr old daughter.
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