A Drumheller resident has taken his love for the outdoors to British Columbia and will soon be speaking in South Africa as a keynote speaker.

"I'm going to be talking about Southern African sharks, rays and chimeras in general. My keynote in South Africa will be sort of a look at the regional status of these species, so I'll be taking a look at 200 some species," outlined Riley Pollom, Programme Officer for the IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group.

"There's this upcoming conference in South Africa, I submitted an abstract just saying I'm going to be talking about this as part of the broader group that will be doing talks. They decided that they were interested enough that they wanted it to be a keynote talk."

The IUCN is a global intergovernmental organization that's made up of several commissions.

"Basically my position with the shark specialist group is working with our international group of experts and basically what my role of here is to bring their work together, while they do field work, and I just help bring it together into a global conservation program," Pollom explained.

So, did you always want your career to base in biology?

"I basically grew up in Drumheller wanting to be a NHL player and I realized fairly early on that it probably wasn't going to happen. I didn't really know what I wanted to do in high school, so I did the usual go to your school councillor to see what opportunities are out there for you," recalled Pollom. "I basically thought what I wanted to do that wasn't a NHL player and that was being outdoors. I looked into a bunch of careers and realized that biology would be an interesting one to pursuit."

A lot of people, in and out of Drumheller, have fears and not full understandings on sharks, which is why Pollom wants everyone to have an open mind and some sort of respect for them.

"Sharks are a lot like bears; you're not necessarily going to restrict yourself entirely from going out hiking in the forest because there is bears out there, the same way you shouldn't do so with swimming on beaches and sharks. People should have a healthy respect for them and that they are wild dangerous animals, but at the same time they are really interesting creatures that are in a lot of ways in trouble," he concluded.

More information on Riley Polloms' keynote series can be found through this link.

Questions, comments, or story ideas? Email us at [email protected]

 

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