Wednesday, March 25, 2015

5 Questions With Shark Stanley: Dr. Callum Roberts

Professor Callum Roberts and Shark Stanley
It's time to meet our next Shark Ambassador, Professor Callum Roberts.

Professor Callum Roberts is a marine conservation biologist at the University of York. Professor Roberts's research focuses on human impacts on marine ecosystems. While his interests in marine conservation have blossomed over the years, his field research remains firmly rooted on coral reefs. On the islands of St. Lucia and Saba in the Caribbean, he has studied the effects of marine reserves closed to all fishing. Those studies revealed both the huge scale of human impacts on the sea, and the means of protecting marine ecosystems from such effects. He is now working to gain acceptance for marine reserves more widely, including in Britain and Europe where he is helping fishers to promote the concept within the industry and to politicians. Dr. Callum Roberts is our first Shark Ambassador from the United Kingdom.

We ask the same five questions of all of our Shark Amabassadors.  Here's what Professor Roberts had to say.

Why are sharks important to you?
I love their grace, beauty and self-assurance so it is always a thrill to see a shark underwater. But more than this, when I see plenty of sharks, I know that I am in a special place where wild nature is in charge.

How are we going to save the world’s sharks?
The simple answer is to stop catching, killing and eating them! To do that we need to persuade people that eating sharks is not cool, and for them to speak out and persuade their friends not to eat them either.

How are you working to protect sharks?
I speak up at every opportunity I can for creatures like sharks that can't speak for themselves, trying to persuade governments to give them protection. I wish everyone was a shark lover, but we have a long way to go yet.

Lots of people look up to you, who are your conservation heroes?
There are lots of people I hugely admire. I don't want to upset any of my living heroes by omission so will restrict myself to just two departed ones. Jacques Cousteau played a big part in my becoming a marine biologist by bringing the wonders of the sea to my home every week when I was a child. Rachel Carson wrote beautifully about the sea and realised before most others just how big human impacts on the world had become. She sounded a clarion call to action in the 1960s that we still follow today.

What advice would you give to young conservationists?
Deepen your knowledge, enlarge your experience and sharpen your communication skills. It takes energy, passion and a thick skin to convince others to value the wild world enough to protect it for ourselves and the many people yet to come.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Shark Stanley Goes to China

Shark Stanley was created to be used as a tool to engage the youth of the world to advocate for shark protections at the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, in 2013.  That campaign reached more than 10,000 people in 135 countries and resulted in the passage of all shark and ray proposals.  Manta rays, hammerhead, porbeagle, and oceanic whitetip sharks all received protections.  Countries now have the tools to implement those protections and they are working.

Over the last several weeks we have leaked previews of the new Adventures of Shark Stanley and Friends, where they travel around the world to advocate for the creation of new shark sanctuaries, huge swaths of ocean where sharks are protected.

We have quietly been making plans for Shark Stanley to head to China, too.  In the global version of the book, Shark Stanley meets a pair of kids who learn about the importance of sharks.  One of the benefits of sharks is ecotourism.

The Chinese version of the book introduces a family on holiday on the island with the first two children.  The family has two kids, who meet up with the island kids and the four of them team up to protect sharks.

The island kids take the visiting kids from island to island to protect sharks.  Shark Stanley is all about making connections between islands, so it is fitting that islanders are also connecting to kids in China.

Eventually the visiting kids hop on an airplane and fly home.  The island kids continue their quest to create shark sanctuaries, but the Chinese kids have a different task.

When the kids get back to China they go to a wedding where shark fin is served.  The young kids tell their older relatives about the importance of sharks and why we need to protect them.  The older generation is excited to hear from the younger, and they agree to a shark fin free wedding.

But its not enough, so the family starts to campaign for shark protections and consumer demand reductions in China.

The Chinese version of The Adventures of Shark Stanley and Friends will be released in China next month.  Ocean Ambassador Sylvia Earle will be handing out books to decision makers and other important people.  We'll make the Chinese version available online in the coming days.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

5 Questions With Shark Stanley: Doc Gruber

"Doc" Gruber and his Caribbean reef sharks in Bimini, The Bahamas
As Shark Stanley makes his way around the world, he gains the support of scientists, conservationists, athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and politicians.  We are honoring the best minds in shark conservation as Shark Ambassadors and will highlight them in a series of upcoming blogs.  We'll ask each Ambassador five questions to learn about their work, their opinion on how we will save sharks, and advice to young people who want to follow in their footsteps.

Our first Shark Ambassador is Dr. Samuel "Doc" Gruber, founder of the world famous Sharklab in Bimini, The Bahamas.

Why are sharks important to you? 
I have studied sharks since 1961. They were and still are an object of fascination, but in fact little was and is known about them. So I dedicated my career to their study.

How are we going to save the world’s sharks? 
This is a political and philosophical question. As scientists we need to be neutral in this regard and supply real facts as we know them about the plight of sharks. Then we turn this over to the various conservation organizations.

How are you working to protect sharks? 
I gather basic data on shark biology relevant to shark conservation.

Lots of people look up to you, who are your conservation heroes? 
Carl Safina, Sylvia Earle, George Rabb, and Nick Dulvy.

What advice would you give to young scientists?
Don’t get bogged down in administration. If at first you don’t succeed (with grants), try try again.  Also, publish, publish, and publish in good high impact journals.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Annie Anderson Update

I asked Annie Anderson to write me a blog and she sent me this:
There once was a girl called Annie. She loved sharks more than pink nail polish and lipstick and she liked pink lipstick A LOT! The moral of this story? Anything is possible, chase your dreams.
Female sharks have eyelashes.  That's how you tell.
You'll notice that Annie hasn't published to her own blog since October last year. It has been even longer since she sent an entry to Shark Defenders. I think I speak on behalf of the Youth of the World when I say that we are all very, very disappointed in you, Annie.

Now stop playing around and send me a blog!
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