Get To Know Elportoshark

Rita Steyn

This week in our Seas the Day series, we talk to a consulting expert for shark, marine, and environmental conservation. Her name is Apryl Boyle. She lives in the Greater Los Angeles area and recently took some time to have a chat with us. Let’s get to know her!

A shark cage selfie! Meet Apryl! Photo: @elportoshark

A shark cage selfie! Meet Apryl! Photo: @elportoshark

Hey! Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m a Los Angeles native, first in the family to go to college and grad school. As I child I was either outside exploring every inch of my neighborhood or with my head in one of the family’s encyclopedias, reading it cover to cover (no internet yet then).

You’ve built your life around the ocean. What drew you to it in the first place?

I’ve been obsessed with the ocean since I can remember and have always considered myself an environmentalist. The ocean has always captivated and terrified me at the same time. The beauty and the sheer power of it. Once I nearly drowned at age 14 when I was caught in a rip tide. I’ve had other close calls surfing in bigger waves and SCUBA diving since then but still return to the ocean. Of course, with a healthy respect for her power. I am always drawn to be in, on, or near the ocean. That the ocean is both beautiful and terrifying drew me in and continues to do so today.

Describe the path you took to where you are now

I went to the University of Tampa for my BS in Marine Science & Chemistry (double major) and worked with Clearwater Marine Aquarium the entire time. I was first a volunteer, then an intern, and then a staff biologist. After receiving my degree I completed a summer internship at NOAA. Next, I went to the Medical University of South Carolina for my MS in Biomedical Science from the Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Epidemiology. I volunteered with the South Carolina Aquarium for my first year in grad school. After graduating I was a statistician for a political lobbyist and, being good with numbers, got sucked into the marketing agency scene for a few years. During this time I was involved in volunteer work with several ocean-themed non-profits such as Surfrider Foundation and Heal the Bay. One day I realized that 11-year-old me would not be happy that I was spending my days doing market research and product forecasts so I left and came back to science full time. I launched my own shark research projects and created global partnerships aimed at education and conservation with other researchers, non-profits, and conservationists.

A great white shark cruises by Apryl. Photo: @elportoshark

A great white shark cruises by Apryl. Photo: @elportoshark

What does a day in your life look like?

My days are almost never the same. One day I’m on a boat educating the public about the importance of sharks. Another day, I’m on a boat looking for great white sharks and determining locations where they may possibly be giving birth. Yet another day I’ll be in front of my computer gathering data, researching the primary literature, designing projects, or networking online. Another day will have me in a studio filming for a documentary or news outlet as a shark advocate and researcher. Still another has me out at networking events, sometimes speaking on a panel or giving a presentation about my work and shark conservation. Then there are those magical international travel days where I’m diving or swimming with sharks in places like Fiji. I do take time to relax every week and surf, ride BMX with my husband, or check out the latest museum exhibits around Los Angeles. That’s the best part about being a Scientist Entrepreneur…I can follow my passions, try new things, and never actually “work”.

How do you hope your voice and work will influence others?

My dream is that we live in a world where humans don’t destroy every creature they fear, but learn to coexist with them. Sharks are particularly important and if I can, in some way, convince people that they need protection and to take action toward that then I will consider myself successful. Also, I really want young women and girls to follow their passions and not worry about fitting into a mold or living up to someone else’s expectations. They should know that they can do anything that they set their minds to.

What other endeavours/hobbies/dreams are you pursuing?

Well, I do spend a fair amount of time trying to inspire the next generation of women in STEM. I mentor and speak for groups nearly every month and do everything I can to encourage others.

Bring it on! Photo: @elportoshark

Bring it on! Photo: @elportoshark

Who or what do you draw your inspiration from?

I always find this question to be tough to answer. I guess it would have to be to do better than those who came before me and to leave this world better than I found it. That would be the best way to describe it.

Can you describe your most memorable encounter with a marine species?

I’ll never forget Bryn Penny at Guadalupe Island in Mexico. She was the first great white shark that I was next to that was of significant size. She’s about 16-18 feet long and as wide as an SUV. Her calm grace as she circled me and watched me, watching her. It was so magical. I had another memorable encounter the following year with two other great whites. One was Screaming Mimi and the other The Legend. Mimi kept coming closer and closer until she was barely a few inches from me as did The Legend. Both could have easily turned to me but gracefully swam by me. Guadalupe Island is really my all-time “happy place”. The ocean has changed rapidly in the last couple of decades.

And which ocean species is on your bucket list to see?

I’d like to kayak with orcas and snorkel with whale sharks.

Whose work has influenced and inspired you?

Sylvia Earle for her contributions to ocean science and tireless advocacy. Arianna Huffington for advocating self-care and working smarter, not harder.

Every day is a good day for ocean advocacy. Photo: @elportoshark

Every day is a good day for ocean advocacy. Photo: @elportoshark

What is one thing you wish someone had told or taught you a long time ago?

I wish that someone could have shown me an image of me now to my twelve year old self so that I could tell me to forget about what people thought about me and to concentrate on the studies that fascinated me so.

Where do you go from here?

Where don’t I go!? I work to get global partners in the effort to conserve sharks. In the near future Costa Rica, Australia, and Wales are on my list. There was mention of Panama or Bahamas in recent talks to you’ll just have to wait and see where in the world Apryl will be next.

Could you leave us with any words of wisdom about ocean conservation?

Take this S E R I O U S L Y! Don’t wait for someone else to do something. Just in my lifetime I’ve watched coastlines disappear and change forever. Even if one simply stops using disposable straws and single-use plastic bottles they can make a huge impact. #ReplaceFearWithFacts and end the senseless and destructive practice of shark culls, finning, and overfishing before it’s too late.

It was great learning more about your passions Apryl! Thank you for speaking with us!

If you’ve enjoyed this interview with Apryl, follow her here @aprylboyle and check out her website

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Seas The Day investigates current and future conservation efforts being used to combat the issues facing our oceans