by Onon Bayasgalan
Shark Stanley is a curious shark indeed! Although he had visited 67 countries in the past month, meeting absolutely amazing people across the globe, he still had a thirst to do some more travelling. As a New Year’s gift, I told him he could travel to any country he wished, as long as it was warm (I wanted a holiday too, you see). He answered without a moment’s thought that he wanted to go to Hong Kong.
He was very happy about the progress that was made in China, where shark fin soup will be banned from being served in state banquets in two years. However, he knew that Hong Kong was still one of the main hubs where shark fin soup is on seafood menus. He wanted to see these stores and restaurants with his own eyes, and I truly couldn’t shield him from seeing what was really out there.
With a little reluctance, I told him that we could go to Hong Kong only if we also visited the island Hainan (where it is warmer). So, at the crack of dawn on New Year’s Day, we left the John F. Kennedy airport for a new adventure. Here is a collection of photos we took throughout our trip.
There were moments where Shark Stanley had to hide in my bag while I looked at shark fins, inspecting their prices and sizes. He was not disheartened by these visits, and in fact his resolve to fight for the cause of our campaign became only firmer.
The photos speak for themselves, but I have to say, I was supremely impressed by Shark Stanley’s display of compassion. He would sit down for long conversations with all kinds of people, always taking care to listen to their stories. His natural curiosity sparked their interest in him, and they were always happy to pose with his friendly self. However, a couple of policemen, grocery store ladies, and a handful of stewardesses were a little shy about posing with him while on duty.
Our funniest experience was when we met a grumpy man who became all giggly, and most bashful when we asked to photograph him. He only relented to posing with Manta Reina if he could hide completely behind her massive physique (he has the red plaid shirt on)! Stanley managed to have coffee with Manta Reina and Pierre the Porbeagle in Hong Kong for an afternoon, but the rest of the trip was all business.
Stanley is back to traveling solo again! The last we spotted him, he was in India. Be nice to him if you see him, his only agenda is to have meaningful conversations with wonderful people.