Debra Canabal

Debra Canabal

Hails from: New York
Currently lives in: New Jersey
Favorite Place: Ocean
Favorite Things to Do: Traveling and photographing sharks
Favorite Shark: Oceanic Whitetip

What shark are you most like and why?
I am most like the oceanic whitetip. Fearless, bold, curious, and intelligent! Brave enough to stand alone but does well in groups.

If you could tell people one thing about about sharks and/or the oceans, what would it be?
Sharks are like people and all have different personalities. Everyone of them has a place in this world and they should be treated with respect. We should not judge them but embrace and understand them. Sharks are very important in the ecosystem and are in urgent need of protection.

I have been an animal lover ever since I could remember and always had a passion for the ocean.  The first time I jumped into the water with a shark was in 2002 in Honduras, that's when I knew I was hooked and haven't looked back since.

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Short Bio:
Debra Canabal earned her Ph.D. in neuroscience at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She did her thesis work on neuronal control of glucose homeostasis and how it is altered in Diabetes. She was also a recipient of a two year National Science Foundation grant in which she facilitated the science curriculum for inner city school systems. After completing her Ph.D. she became an animal nutritionist for pharmaceutical companies. During graduate school she went on her first shark dive in the Bay Islands of Honduras and immediately developed a passion for sharks and their conservation. From then on her passion grew, her love for sharks deepened and she began to focus her efforts on their preservation.

Debra owns and operates Epic Diving where she specializes in oceanic whitetip shark photography expeditions. She also spends time working in the local community and school systems to inspire shark conservation throughout the island.  She believes responsible ecotourism is an excellent way to spread the conservation message.

Debra is Shark Research Institute's Director of Development. She writes grants for SRI's research, education and awareness projects. As a scientist for SRI she spends long hours in the water with oceanic whitetips studying the population and their behavior.

Debra believes though awareness, research and education will lead to the conservation of sharks, and hopes to inspire a new outlook on sharks and aid in their protection.