Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dispatches from Fiji: Shark Stanley Lands in Suva

Guest Blog
by Angelo O'Connor Villagomez

The Pew Charitable Trusts and its partners are working to promote “Shark Stanley,” a student-led outreach effort to raise awareness of the need for action to protect sharks and manta rays at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in Thailand in March.

Participants in this campaign cut out the image of Shark Stanley, take a photo, and post it on such social networks as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Each serves as a “photo signature” and represents a conversation that has taken place on the importance of protecting sharks.

The first public reading of The Adventures of Shark Stanley and Friends
 We all know sharks are highly migratory species, but I’ve been astonished to see that since the effort was launched Dec. 17, 2012, Shark Stanley and his friends have been photographed in 95 countries. It is one of several ways Pew is working to encourage public support for CITES action to protect sharks.

CITES is widely recognized as one of the most effective and best-enforced international conservation agreements. By addressing the trade of more than 30,000 species, it has been instrumental in preventing the extinction of numerous plants and animal species. At the upcoming meeting, governments will vote on proposed protections for three shark species (porbeagle, oceanic whitetip, and hammerhead) and for manta rays.

Brooklyn Farrugia contacted me through Shark Defenders and has been helping with our programs since 2011.
One recent morning, I took Shark Stanley to the Suva Multi-Intelligence School in Fiji, where I thought I would be making a presentation on sharks. To my surprise, I was treated to a play about shark conservation in Fiji that the kids wrote, directed, and performed!

Afterward, we spent time taking photos with Shark Stanley and his friends—Manta Reina, Pierre le Porbeagle, and Waqi Whitetip.

Suva Multi Intelligence School's eight grade
These photos will be used* to represent the voices of the young people of Fiji who want sharks protected, and they will be added to the global “Shark Stanley” petition calling on CITES member governments to support the proposals on sharks and manta rays.  More photos from the school are posted on the Facebook page of Fiji Shark Defenders.

Published by the Pew Charitable Trusts on February 19, 2013. *The photos were delivered to Fiji's CITES delegates on March 3, 2013.

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