‘Try not to act like a victim’

Forrest Galante is a biologist and adventurer who scours the land and sea in search of animals long believed to be extinct, with the goal of bringing in research and funding to revive their populations. It’s exciting, inspiring, and as you can imagine, insanely dangerous. Forrest has encountered non-happy hippos and “who could go south very quickly” situations during his travels. But the good news is that he still counts all his fingers and toes. And he’s not afraid to face the majestic beast that’s swam into many of our nightmares: sharks.


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For an epic episode of 2020’s Shark Week, Forrest headed to the Maldives to discover Pondicherry, a shark that had not been seen for decades due to reckless fishing practices. You can find out if he’s found a good friend by listening to the above episode of Get a Real Job. Forrest talked about his disdain for shark cages, his love of adventure, and his fear of the most feared creature of all: propagators. Here are some excerpts from that conversation. Thanks, as always, for listening!

swim outside the box

“I hate cage diving. I’ve done it once in my life in South Africa. And I was a complete waste of time. I mean, nothing against anyone who wants to go and do it. I guess That’s a great and very safe way to go and see these animals. I don’t dive with sharks for the thrill, but I certainly don’t mind the thrill. I’m not crazy about adrenaline, but when You have a tiger shark weighing 2,000 pounds that’s swimming at you at full speed and you use nothing but your hands to stop it from biting, you get a little bit of adrenaline! But when I’m down If I am, I am doing work that is relevant to the species. You have to work there with the animal and it is not sitting in a metal box.”

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Sharks are just like puppies

“I’ve been in water with great white sharks, bull sharks, tiger sharks, and all those species. But compared to working with some other species, they’re puppy dogs. When you’re working with saltwater water There are crocodiles in or in the same freshwater ecosystem where hippopotamuses live, it’s really scary. I must stress this – and I will emphasize this to everyone: don’t go and try it! Somebody like me Don’t watch TV and just go in water with sharks. I can do it because it takes a lot of understanding and patience and a lot of other words. It’s not easy and it can be very, very dangerous.”

So how do you become a shark expert?

“Not many people see that when I started my career, I spent years of my life counting ants and picking weeds. That’s how biologists get started! Once you’ve mastered it , and you’ve proved your work ethic, you go to rats and then foxes. You don’t go in and go, ‘I’m going to be a shark scientist. I’m going to jump in the water and spear sharks’ I’ll start tagging you!’ Like, it doesn’t work that way. You have to start at the bottom and earn your street credit.”