TAMU-CC Researcher to be Featured in Popular "Shark Week" - The Bend Magazine

TAMU-CC Researcher to be Featured in Popular “Shark Week”

Dr. Kesley Banks will present a segment all about the important role sharks play in our marine ecosystem during this year's "Shark Week"

Dr. Kesley Banks presents a shark jaw bone in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Photo provided by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Blockbusters and documentaries have carefully crafted the image of the beast we think of when someone yells “Shark!” and oftentimes, the picture painted isn’t a pretty one. For Dr. Kesley Banks, an Associate Research Scientist at the Harte Research Institute with a deep-rooted love for the ocean apex, the annual Shark Week programming makes for a perfect opportunity to undo some of the damage decades of violent portrayals. 

Banks, a Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi doctoral graduate in Marine Biology,  will represent Corpus Christi in this year’s Shark Week, marking her fifth return to the program. From fishing with her grandparents in Mobile, Alabama to being featured on Discovery Channel’s most anticipated week of the year, Banks’ career has been a whirlwind of hard on-the-field work and well-deserved success.

Dr. Kesley Banks tags a fish at the HRI center in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Photo provided by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Raised in a fish-loving family, with a marine geologist father and taphonomist brother, Banks’ career seemed destined. Two decades and three degrees later, her roots blossomed into a career full of impactful work, including research in the Gulf of Mexico with TAMU-CC’s Harte Research Institute, appointment to the Fishery Management Council by the Texas Governor and involvement with five years of Shark Week programming.

“Shark Week is a great avenue to get research out of the lab and into people’s day-to-day conversations,” Banks said in a press release. “It gives people a chance to start digging deeper in shark science and seek answers to the questions they have — not just about sharks, but about a healthy ocean in general, something we all benefit from.”

A group of HRI researchers, including Dr. Kesley Banks, look at a sheet of paper together at a research center in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Dr. Kesley Banks and other HRI researchers will talk sharks during this year’s “Shark Week.” | Photo provided by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Banks’ current work as an HRI researcher centers around “science-driven solutions” and includes maintenance, health and prosperity in the Gulf of Mexico. With the hope of bringing awareness to HRI and the work its team does, Shark Week has featured the institute’s researchers in programming for the last eight years. Banks’ segment this year, titled “Caught! When Sharks Attack,” specifically tackles the importance of sharks in marine ecosystems and attempts to dismantle some long-standing prejudices people have of these sea creatures.

“Sharks provide an excellent platform to educate children and adults on the critical importance of healthy oceans for the well-being of both people and the planet,” said HRI Executive Director Dr. Greg Stunz in a press release. “An ocean without sharks is a much scarier place than one with them. Having our scientists participate in Shark Week and attend our community events can inspire future generations to respect and admire these remarkable animals, fostering a sense of conservation and sustainability for our world’s oceans and especially the Gulf of Mexico.”

Dr. Kesley Banks hands out goodies during a Shark Week event at Brewsters Street in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Photo provided by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Catch Banks’ segment on Thursday, July 11 from 8-9 p.m. on the Discovery Channel, or stop by TAMU-CC’s free Shark Week LIVE! event at Brewsters Street Icehouse Downtown on the same night from 6-9 p.m. 

To continue the celebration, the Texas State Aquarium will also host a “Let’s Talk Sharks!” show starring Dr. Banks and other HRI researchers on Friday morning. This show is only one of many shark-centric events hosted by the university throughout July, so make sure to check out their Shark Week calendar!

Looking for more seaside stories? Check out our July print story on a local oyster company and their conservation journey.