Eric Hovland is an associate curator and all-around ‘Shark Guy’ at The Florida Aquarium in downtown Tampa. He has been a part of the Aquarium team since the institution was built in 1995. It is there he helps lead and support animal care, and the well-being of more than 20,000 animal and plant residents—including one of Eric’s favorite types of animals, sand tiger sharks—that call the downtown facility home.
A Wisconsin native, Eric’s heart has been in Tampa Bay for the 22 years he’s worked at The Florida Aquarium where he engages, educates and excites its more than 800,000 guests per year about the importance of sharks and other sea life through in-house animal care demonstrations and guest interactions.
Eric also regularly serves as a marine life expert in Tampa Bay and beyond on shark conservation and more through media interviews, social media and other platforms.
He’s an acting member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) shark preservation program which seeks to propel awareness of critically endangered and important sharks. Through his work with SAFE, he helps the Association’s more than 230 zoo and aquarium members across the United States create a positive impact on millions of people who visit these facilities each year.
His professional and personal passion for marine life shines through not only in his curator role at the Aquarium, but in the field where he has participated in multiple Aquarium-led conservation efforts including The Sand Tiger Shark reproduction program in collaboration with SEZARC and a consortium of aquariums; an annual staghorn coral spawn in the Florida Keys to save Florida’s coastal reef ecosystems; and swallow-tailed kite research and study to protect and advocate for this amazing avian species that call Florida home.
Eric views his role as an ambassador for the natural environment, speaking on behalf of nature and animals, like sharks, which need to be protected for the well-being and future of oceans, and our blue planet.