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Riverside Employee Jamie Clark Receives NOAA SEFSC 2019 Team Member of the Year Award

June 6, 2019

Jamie assists with tagging a leatherback sea turtle. This activity was authorized by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Endangered Species Act permit 21233 issued to the Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC).

Jamie Clark has contributed to enhanced stewardship of NOAA Fisheries protected sea turtle populations and to the enhanced morale of the workforce at the NOAA Beaufort Laboratory. Despite being employed as a contractor for less than a year and having her schedule affected by both a major hurricane (Florence) and a prolonged partial government shutdown, Jamie’s accomplishments are remarkably extensive. Jamie assisted with the deployment of 165 LED and 3 acoustic deterrents on pound nets during a 3 week period in October 2018 that involved almost daily switching out of deterrents, fishing pound nets, and working up incidentally captured sea turtles. Jamie also took on extra duties on her own initiative, to accommodate an injured co-worker, and single-handedly worked to salvage hundreds of sea turtle bone samples from a walk-in freezer that experienced catastrophic failure coincident with Hurricane Florence. It is difficult to describe the appalling conditions under which Jamie worked with respect to heat and decomposition state of affected samples, but despite the daunting nature of the task, she enthusiastically took on the challenge and cataloged, dissected, boiled, and cleaned >800 bones. In addition to this monumental effort she continued her regular laboratory work, involving histological processing of sea turtle bones for age and growth studies.

Jamie’s contributions have been integral to research efforts focused on improving threatened and endangered sea turtle management and conservation. Data collected during bycatch deterrent research will enable use of pound nets with a reduction in incidental capture and potential injury of sea turtles, with implications for reducing bycatch in other types of fisheries as well. The bones Jamie salvaged following the freezer breakdown were representative of unique time series from locations spanning US Atlantic and Gulf coasts, making them irreplaceable for sea turtle age and growth studies that increase understanding of population dynamics, a fundamental requirement for effective management.

Jamie’s unmatched enthusiasm and persistence in completing difficult tasks to meet agency goals make her an exceptional team member. She is very attentive to detail, asking perceptive questions to improve processes and approaches, and proactive in stepping in to help with whatever is needed to accomplish a given task, always with heartfelt interest and a smile.