Paula Branshaw Carlson is Director of Husbandry at The Dallas World Aquarium, in Dallas, Texas. After graduating from Texas A&M University with a BS in Marine Biology, Paula began her career as a professional aquarist with Sea World of Florida in 1986. From there, she spent four years managing retail aquarium stores in Florida and Texas, before taking a position in 1995 at The Dallas World Aquarium.
An outspoken advocate for the important role that zoos and aquariums play in informal science education and conservation, her passion led her to pursue a MA degree in Zoo and Aquarium Leadership from George Mason University. Paula is an active member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and serves as a steering committee member and Vice-Chair of the Marine Fishes Taxon Advisory Group (MFTAG).
Paula’s love for fish began at the tender age of 6 when her father got her hooked on keeping fancy tailed guppies. Her professional aquarium passions are what a former employer termed “career fish” – the rare and unusual reef fishes, syngnathids (especially seadragons), and elasmobranchs.
She frequently shares her work on the husbandry of Leafy seadragons, Ribbon pipefish, and Sawfish conservation with industry professionals at national and international conferences. Still an avid hobbyist, Paula is a long-time member of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Marine Aquarium Society.
In addition to her duties at The Dallas World Aquarium, Paula is a member of both the IUCN’s Shark Specialist Group and the IUCN’s Specialist Group for Seahorse, Pipefish and Stickleback. In 2012, she participated in a workshop to help develop the IUCN’s Global Conservation Strategy for Sawfish, which was published in June 2014 and along with other public aquarium colleagues helped to establish the first International Sawfish Day in October 2017.
Paula sees her career as more of a calling and feels incredibly fortunate to be able to help create awareness for marine conservation by fostering collaborations between professional aquarists and other related industries.
Follow her on twitter – @Ppsharkpaula