Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Shark Stanley & Sharks4Kids in St. Eustatius

The Dutch Caribbean islands of St. Eustatius (often shortened to Statia), Saba and Sint Maarten all hosted Shark Weeks this summer. The main goal of these conservation themed weeks was to promote the creation of new shark sanctuaries throughout the Caribbean. The team from STENAPA (St Eustatius National Parks Foundation), led by education and outreach coordinator Claire Blair, hosted an epic week of movies, student activities and even hosted a Shark Stanley day. Duncan and I were supposed to take part in the event, but Hurricane Erika arranged our schedule and sent us back to Florida after less than 24 hours in Sint Maarten. We were scheduled to attend Sea and Learn on Saba in October, so we decided to visit Statia as part of this trip and do a sort of Shark Week 2.0 with the students.

Bethel Methodist School
 We hit the ground running.  Claire and marine park manager Jessica Berkel picked us up from the airport and and we headed straight to CSNI (Caribbean Netherlands Science Institute at St Eustatius) for a special edition of the monthly Science CafĂ©. Duncan and I gave a presentation about the role of media and science in shark conservation. We had a much larger crowd than expected and thoroughly enjoyed the conversations that followed. It was clear from the minute we arrived: Statia has some shark lovers!

Golden Rock Roman Catholic School
The next day we started our busy tour of the local schools. In the morning we visited both the Golden Rock Roman Catholic School and Bethel Methodist School speaking to students in grades 1-6. During Shark Week, STENAPA had hosted a coloring and art contest for the students and Claire escorted us to each school to award prizes from the contest.

In the afternoon we visited the Mega D Youth Foundation and spoke to a group of students ranging form elementary to high school. I am always fascinated by the questions students ask and just how much they actually know about sharks. It is inspiring to see them excited and eager to take part in shark conservation. Many of the students we spoke with had seen a shark, which gives them a personal connection. Seeing an animal in the wild can be very powerful in changing the way people perceive sharks, so starting kids off at a young age can have a life long impact.

We rounded out the day with a community presentation at Super Burger and were again pleasantly surprised by the crowd. Kids and adults joined us and engaging conservations were once again had after our talk. I love visiting schools, but it is equally important to engage with the community. These are the people making decisions, supporting regulations and promoting tourism and protecting the local environment. It also gives the community a chance to get to know the people speaking at the schools, our mission and why we do what we do.

The next day started earlier because we had a flight to catch in the afternoon. We visited the two other primary schools on the island, Lynch Plantation Seventh Day Adventist School and Governor de Graaf School. Claire gave away more prizes for incredible artwork and Mr. Sharky made an appearance after arriving in my bag (which decided to stay in Sint Maarten a day longer than I did) that morning. It always makes my heart happy seeing gets get excited and want their pictures with the shark. It makes sharks seem fun and we are all about replacing fear with fun and fascination. Getting kids excited and interested increases the likelihood of their continued positive outlook towards sharks as they grow up.

We had a wonderful trip and met some really passionate people making incredible efforts to protect the environment. Special thanks to STENAPA, CNSI, Shark Stanley and Shark Defenders. Collaboration can be a beautiful thing and working with Shark Stanley has been an incredible opportunity and a wonderful tool in our outreach programs.

Guest blog by Jillian Morris. Jillian is the founder and president of Sharks4Kids, a shark education organization based in Florida. She has a behavioral biology degree and is a professional videographer and photographer who spends most of her time on the island of Bimini, The Bahamas swimming with sharks. You can follow Jillian on Twitter.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Sharks of Bimini

Hey folks!

And we're back. Here's a new blog for you!

Nurse shark
Bimini, The Bahamas is the sharkiest place I've ever been in my life.  It's home to the world famous Sharklab, of course, but it's also a place where large sharks roam freely.  In a single day I saw six species of shark, plus three species of ray.  The nurse sharks (Data Deficient) were everywhere.  They were inside the lab's pens, at the dive sites, and swimming in the marina (more photos on Facebook).

Lemon shark
Lemon sharks (Near Threatened) were also in the pens.  I also saw an adult swimming in the marina.

A video posted by @tadziobervoets on

The bull sharks (Near Threatened) patrol the Big Game Club marina every day.  The scientists at the lab go there to study them.  One also came in for a visit when we visited the hammerheads.

Caribbean reef (Near Threatened) and blacknose sharks (Near Threatened) swarmed us at the Triangle Rocks.  The reefies are about 5 feet long; the blacknoses are smaller.

I've swum with all those species at different times, but this was my first time to see a great hammerhead (Endangered).  I spent two days on the water.  I saw three on the first day and one on the second.

I also saw several spotted eagle rays (Near Threatened) both at the marina and out on the water, several southern stingrays (Data Deficient), and a single yellow-spotted ray (unassessed by IUCN) hanging out in the marina.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Last Post

Well, after 5 years of working on shark conservation with you, we've decided to close up shop. This blog will remain as an archive, and will continue to serve as the repository for all things Shark Stanley. Thank you for your untiring support! And good luck to all of you who are still working so hard to protect sharks around the world.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Have you been diving with sharks in The Bahamas?

Click here to take the survey.  Thanks!
Have you ever been shark diving in The Bahamas?  The Cape Eleuthera Institute is conducting a study to examine the tourism value of sharks in The Bahamas.  Please help them in there study by taking a 10 minute online survey about your diving activities in The Bahamas.  All of the responses will be anonymous, and will benefit the conservation of sharks in The Bahamas and the wider Caribbean.  Follow this link to take the survey, and please only do so if you have been diving with sharks in The Bahamas.  Also, please help us by sharking this link with others who have swam with the sharks in The Bahamas.  Thank you!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Justin Bieber Wins Shark Week

Every shark conservationist, scientist, and enthusiast has been dreaming of Shark Week for weeks. We've spent hours planning our social media outreach strategy in the hopes that our work will be noticed during this week of hyperfocused attention on sharks.

And Justin Bieber just beat all of us by tweeting about Shark Week to some dude. As of this writing it has been retweeted 27 thousand times and favorited 34 thousand times. That's more than all our efforts combined. Damn you, Justin Bieber, damn you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

5 Questions With Shark Stanley: Speaker Fernando Scaliem

Speaker Fernando Scaliem and Shark Stanley
Speaker Fernando Scaliem has been a member of the Pohnpei Legislature for more than 20 years.  Prior to his service in the Legislature he worked in continuing education at the Community College of Micronesia for over a decade.  He has championed shark protections on his native island of Pohnpei, at the national level of the Federated States of Micronesia, and internationally as his role as treasurer of the Association of Pacific Islands Legislatures.

Speaker Scaliem is our latest Shark Stanley Ambassador.  We ask all of our ambassadors the same set of five questions.  Here's what the shark man of Micronesia had to say:

Why are sharks important to you?
Sharks are cleaners and protectors of the ocean. Not only are they important to the health of the ocean, but they have great cultural significance for my people. My clan—tipakua—worshiped this animal. We’re also called “Ribako.” Our clan comes originally from the Gilbert Islands in Kiribati.

How are we going to save the world’s sharks?
We are going to save the world’s sharks by passing legislation to protect sharks and properly enforcing that legislation. It is also incredibly important for us to educate the public on the importance of sharks to our oceans.

How are you working to protect sharks?
I sponsored the shark protection legislation in Pohnpei in 2013. The legislation prohibits shark fishing in Pohnpei’s waters. I worked to convince the other senators in Pohnpei to pass the shark legislation. In fact, Pohnpei was the first state in the Federated States of Micronesia to introduce shark protection legislation. We worked in communities and with students to educate the public and build support for the shark protection law.

I also met with Eugene Joseph from the Conservation Society of Pohnpei and asked him to help. He gave me lots of shark conservation t-shirts, which I gave to some of the women in my village. They performed traditional dances wearing these shirts, and that’s when the community support really started to take off. CSP also did a lot of works with young people and held rallies to support our shark law, and the passage of the Federated States of Micronesia national law.

Lots of people look up to you, who are your conservation heroes?
Willy Kostka from Micronesia Conservation Trust and Eugene Joseph from the Conservation Society of Pohnpei.

What advice would you give to young conservationists?
It is our duty to save the world, starting little by little. Support conservation for sharks and all marine animals. We only have one planet and we should all do our part to save it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Youth Ambassador Profile: Krisma Moore

Krisma Moore with Shark Stanley and Spencer Eagle Ray
Krisma Moore, born, raised, and educated on the Caribbean island of Grenada is our next Shark Stanley Youth Ambassador.

Krisma works on the staff of EcoDive, a Grenadian dive company, and is a graduate of the Marine & Wildlife Conservation bachelors program at the St. George’s University. She enjoys using her time, education and skills to educate and empower Grenadians and in her spare time volunteers with two local organizations: The Grenada Green Group; which is an anti-litter coalition that works along with communities and community groups, and Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN Grenada Chapter), a non-profit, civil society, charitable body that focuses its resources on empowering young people and their communities to develop programmes to address socioeconomic and environmental issues.

Krisma is currently leading the campaign to create a shark sanctuary in Grenada.  She makes presentations with community members on the importance of sharks to island ecosystems and is Shark Stanley's biggest fan.

We ask each of our Youth Ambassadors the same four questions.  Here's what Krisma had to say:

When and how did you first become interested in sharks?
I first became interested in sharks while watching a short shark documentary a few years ago, which made mention of the movie Sharkwater. The documentary aroused concern within me and I looked at the movie Sharkwater immediately after. The movie really put into perspective the magnitude of the problem of the over fishing of Sharks and how this issue can be easily swept under the carpet while our own survival as human beings hangs in the balance.

How are you working to help save the world’s sharks?
Here on the Islands of Grenada, Carriacou, & Petite Martinique I am creating awareness on the issue of Shark finning/ overfishing through presentations within schools, communities, school & community groups and events. I use every opportunity to shed light on the topic and no one is too young or too old.

Who are your conservation heroes?
My conservation heroes are Dr. Andrea Easter Pilcher, Dr. Heather Eves and Dr. Clare Morrall,  my advisors and professors of Marine & Wildlife Conservation at University and have and are participating actively in research and education campaigns globally targeting the conservation cause. Last but not least there is my dad who implanted the seed of a passion for conservation through his long talks while hiking through our beautiful rainforests of Grenada or our usual nature walks on evenings while growing up. My values in regards to conservation started here with heated discussions on what can be done about our own endemic species threatened with extinction.

How would you suggest other people get involved in the protection of sharks?
It doesn’t matter how small; every action counts. We can use social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and casual day to day conversation between our peers and community members to spread the message on Shark finning/ overfishing. We can say no to Shark fin soup and any shark parts or by products being sold. We can also support groups and organizations that are locally/ globally fighting for the protection of Sharks like PEW by volunteering time, skills and services.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Shark Stanley Dives Into Shark Science

Sharks4Kids recently teamed up with Seacamp and Dr. Jeffrey Carrier for a 2- day shark science immersion program for young women in the Florida Keys. The group of eight grade students spent the first day learning all about shark biology, anatomy and conservation. When asked, many of the students were nervous about sharks, but were excited to learn more about them. In the afternoon they each got to lead the work up of a juvenile nurse shark.

The work ups included measuring (2 length measurements), weighing, taking a DNA sample (small tissue sample from the trailing edge of the shark’s dorsal fin) and inserting a PIT tag and a roto tag. PIT (like a microchip for your pet) tags are inserted just under the skin below the first dorsal fin and the roto tags are placed at the edge of the dorsal fin. Each shark was then released. Nurse sharks are extremely hardy and during each work up their gills and eyes were kept wet. The girls worked as a team to get this done quickly and efficiently in order to reduce stress on the animal. Shark Stanley even joined in!

On the second day we headed out to set lines and let the students work through the entire process of setting, waiting, catching, doing a work up and releasing the animal. I still get excited when a research line is being pulled in because you never know what you might catch and it was amazing to see that same excitement in each one of the girls. Even though the only sharks we caught were more nurses, the girls remained interested and did a phenomenal job. The high light was catching a shark they had tagged the previous day.

The main goal of the project was to expose young women to real life science in action. “Before this experience I thought marine scientists only observed organisms in the lab. I did not think they were hands on with organisms, “ one student had to say. The other goal was to make them aware of the global shark crisis that is happening and how they can be part of the solution. They have the ocean in their backyard, so empowering these students is critical, especially in a state where way too many sharks are still killed for sport. “This experience made me think of reasons why sharks are not scary and why there are so many misconceptions,” another student had to say about her experience.

We also discussed Shark Stanley and his role in supporting the establishment of shark sanctuaries. They loved the stickers and even the adults were eager to rock the temporary tattoos. Although Stanley is a cartoon, he has become an iconic symbol for saving sharks. Young or old, we can all make a difference and he is encouraging kids of all ages to do just that.

I created Sharks4Kids to not only educate kids about sharks, but to also get them out in the ocean to see these remarkable animals. This program was extremely rewarding and provided our whole team with an optimism regarding the future of our oceans, plus it was just a lot of fun! We are planning more of these programs and Shark Stanley will join us on each adventure!

Guest blog by Jillian Morris. Jillian is the founder and president of Sharks4Kids, a shark education organization based in Florida. She has a behavioral biology degree and is a professional videographer and photographer who spends most of her time on the island of Bimini, The Bahamas swimming with sharks. You can follow Jillian on Twitter.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

5 Questions With Shark Stanley: Achmat Hassiem

Achmat Hassiem and Shark Stanley in Washington, DC
Athletes can defend sharks, too.  Our latest Shark Ambassador is South African Olympian Achmat Hassiem.  He has been an advocate for sharks with the Shark Attack Survivors for Shark Conservation and was the opening speaker for the 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), also called the "Shark COP," in 2014.

Achmat Hassiem lost a leg in 2006 during an encounter with a great white shark while he and his brother were training to be lifeguards. As Achmat distracted the animal so his brother could get into a boat, the shark attacked, dragging him underwater. Hassiem's brother grabbed his outstretched arm and hauled him aboard the boat to safety.

Undaunted by his injury and fitted with a prosthetic, Hassiem swam in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics and won a bronze medal at the 2012 London games. He has set numerous national swimming records in his native South Africa and in Africa and is the world champion for the Paralympics 200-meter butterfly.

Achmat continues to train and compete with his sights set on winning the gold at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janiero.

We ask each of our Shark Ambassadors the same set of 5 questions.  Here's what Achmat had to say:

Why are sharks important to you?
Sharks are our oceans apex predators. Not only are they awesome, powerful, and beautiful creatures, but they play an important role in keeping our oceans balance in order. Without Sharks our oceans cannot function properly.

How are we going to save the world’s sharks?
By creating awareness and creating and developing shark sanctuaries all around the world.

How are you working to protect sharks?
I am a shark attack survivor, and who better to speak for the protection of sharks than a shark attack survivor? My experiences with the attack and love for our oceans combined with motivation and conservation works well to push the message through for shark protection. Being known as “Sharkboy,” I use the media through my speeches as well as create awareness to our youth.

Lots of people look up to you, who are your conservation heroes?
My heroes are all those who make it their life’s work to protect our planet and the various species that call it home.

What advice would you give to young athletes?
Impossible is nothing, possible is you and me!  Captain Planet said it best, “The power is yours!”

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Marshall Islands Fines Vessel $55,000

Bernard Biubala
A purse seiner registered in the Federated States of Micronesia was charged with one count of possession of sharks, a violation of the Republic of the Marshall Islands fisheries law.  During a routine boarding, Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority Observer Program Advisor Bernard Biubala and three other MIMRA observers discovered several shark carcasses on the deck of the vessel.  The case, involving the vessel MV Mathawmarfach and its parent company Yap Seagull Inc., resulted in an out of court settlement with the company paying $55,000 to MIMRA.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Youth Ambassador Profile: Joseph Casila

Joseph and Shark Stanley
Joseph Casila, a high school student on Guam is our next Shark Stanley Youth Ambassador.  Joseph was born on Guam, raised in the Philippines, went back to Guam, and has now lived back on island for the last 12 years. He's always enjoyed solving problems, so for the past year (after taking marine biology at George Washington High School), he's been working to solve the problem of Guam not being a shark sanctuary.

When and how did you first become interested in sharks?
I first became interested in sharks in 6th grade when we learned about their special abilities in preparation for a field trip to Underwater World. When I first learned about their Ampullae of Lorenzini, I thought to myself, "These fish must be the super humans of the sea." From then, I just looked at them as super cool animals. On the other hand, I became interested in saving sharks after watching the documentary called Shark Fin Soup. Again, I like solving problems and people killing sharks just because they are "scary" or supposedly a "delicacy" is a big problem that I want to solve. I just don't see the logic in killing sharks.

How are you working to help save the world's sharks?
Right now, I am coordinating a contest I created called the Save Our Sharks Video Contest. The contest aims to educate the public, spread the love, and remove the fear of sharks. I believe that most are only afraid because they don't understand. Hopefully by the end of the contest and after we publicize the contest videos, people would learn, love, or at least understand how amazing sharks really are. On another spectrum of the Save Our Sharks campaign, I plan on introducing a Youth Congress legislation to create a shark sanctuary with as much authority over the ocean as our local government has. Also, I plan to work on ensuring that existing shark fin bans are followed.

Who are your conservation heroes?
My conservation hero is without a doubt Ms. Linda Tatreau. She has done so much conservational work, been with Marine Mania for so many years, and have inspired so many lives through her love and commitment to the environment. I am one of them! When she picks up a plastic bottle in public, it would make you question why our society doesn't have the same attitude towards the environment like her. Before meeting her, I would be uncomfortable picking up trash in public just like how some people would think picking up trash is "un-classy". However after one quarter with her, I couldn't be more proud of running after a plastic bag being carried away by the wind because I know I'm saving the environment and it's what other people should be doing anyway. That is just a tidbit of how heroic Ms. Tatreau is. There's no one else I know who's convservation efforts and attitude are so astounding that it's contagious. Another heroic thing about Ms. Tatreau is how she makes work fun and feel like it's not work at all! Because of her, recycling isn't really recycling; it's saving animals by helping prevent pollution. Because of her, campaigning also isn't really campaigning; it's simply helping to preserve the ocean's ecosystem. She not only taught me, but also showed and inspired me to do conservation work. She not only was a teacher, but was also a hero to me.

How would you suggest other people get involved in the protection of sharks?
If you're not interested in saving sharks yet, it'll be great news to hear that it's not hard to find interest. All you have to do is educate yourself about sharks and all the things being done to them. Once you've done those two things, you'll know exactly what I mean when I say it's hard to not become an advocate. You'll want to do something about it because sharks are just amazing creatures that need to be protected. For me, all it took was a supportive team and an hour or two of watching Shark Fin Soup to start advocating sharks. For those who already do want to help protect sharks, the easiest thing you can do is to educate yourself and especially others. For example, when you hear someone talking about how sharks are out to devour people who swim in the ocean, stop and inform them before they spread misleading statements to others. Just because they can smell a single drop of blood 3 miles away, it's not logical in thinking that a shark will swim that distance just to intentionally eat something that is (1) unknown to them and (2) not even part of their food chain. For those who feel like they want to help on a much bigger scale, I would suggest joining/starting a group or organization to further increase the educational delivery to an even bigger audience. To me, misunderstanding is the biggest hurdle in saving our sharks. A lot of people are just misinformed and scared for now. That is why public awareness and education are what I push for the most. It's only when the public reach a genuine understanding for sharks, can we all, as community, move to save them. To hear the word shark and have something positive be the first thing that come into people's minds instead of things like sharp teeth and killing machine is something that I can only dream of for now. Hopefully through advocates' hard work, that time will come soon and people will finally understand how amazing and important sharks really are.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

5 Questions With Shark Stanley: Charlotte Vick

Charlotte met Shark Stanley in Washington, DC
It's time to meet our next Shark Ambassador.

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.

Charlotte Vick is a specialist in coastal management, government, maritime policy, technology and planning who works at community, state, national and international levels. In 2008, she joined the Sylvia Earle Alliance, Google and a team of scientists and hundreds of partners to develop a new platform for ocean education. Using curated imagery, scientific information and data on Google Earth, the team pioneered new ways of visualization that now routinely access and display the critical planetary ocean and atmospheric systems enabling leaders and citizens to know more about even the most remote places such as the Marianas Trench.

We ask the same five questions of all of our Shark Ambassadors. Here's what Charlotte had to say.

Why are sharks important to you?
Sharks are an ancient species that has served ocean ecosystems for millions of years. Healthy ecosystems need healthy populations of sharks. And, they are beautiful creatures who are seriously misunderstood by humans.

How are we going to save the world's sharks?
We save the world's sharks by allowing them to not only survive, but thrive.

How are you working to protect sharks?
In addition to supporting legislation to protect sharks in state and national waters around the US, I work with shark advocates to create video and photo based stories that educate people of all ages in multiple languages as part of the team of the Sylvia Earle Alliance and Mission Blue.

Lots of people look up to you, who are your conservation heroes?
I am very proud to work with Dr. Sylvia Earle, oceanographer and marine biologist who is one of the world's great ocean advocates. I also admire Professor Callum Roberts a conservation biologist from the UK, Dr. Carl Safina, a superb writer and ecologist, Dr. Edith Widder, explorer and marine scientist, and film director Louie Psihoyos.

What advice would you give to young conservationists?
Young conservationists should get into the field as often as they can, read books written by those above and others, see conservation and natural history films and volunteer in their home community. A good grounding in sciences from school will serve them well throughout their lives.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Youth Ambassador Profile: Tina Randall

Tina Randall takes a swim with Shark Stanley
As Shark Stanley circles the globe he comes across young people who are working to save sharks. These Youth Ambassadors inspire the rest of us, old and young alike, to take action to make changes in our own backyards.

Tina Randall is our second Youth Ambassador from the Caribbean. She lives in the Turks and Caicos Islands where she works on a family farm with just about every animal you can imagine, but her favorite animal is Shark Stanley. Tina’s favorite activities include getting kids riled up for shark conservation, diving with Shark Stanley and dressing up in a shark mascot costume and twerking like a tiger shark.

All of the Youth Ambassadors are asked the same set of four questions. Here's what Tina had to say:

When and how did you first become interested in sharks?
I fell in love with sharks when I did a semester in the Galapagos Islands studying marine biology. After diving with Hammerheads and free diving with 25 whitetip sharks by myself, I felt a strong connection with sharks. I was addicted to the exhilarating and humbling feeling you get when they look you in the eyes. When I saw the piles and truckloads of dead sharks on mainland Ecuador, a fire was lit inside me to save sharks. My passion grew into a senior thesis on their conservation. This influenced my peers to contact government and put fuel into the movement that contributed to the Oregon HB 2838 that bans possession, trade and sale of shark fins.

How are you working to help save the world’s sharks?
A team of hardcore chicks in the Turks and Caicos are cultivating a culture of children who care about shark protections. One kid at a time, we are changing perceptions of sharks from a fearful “Jaws” to an appreciative “sharks are Jawsome” attitude. Once kids get over the fact that sharks are not trying to eat them they get so excited to learn about all the cool species and what they do for the marine ecosystem. Some kids who had never even swam in the ocean before beg to go snorkeling and see a shark. Recently the Turks and Caicos’ hosted our first Shark Conservation Weekend. Conservationist Rob Stewart and the #TCISHARK crew visited dozens of schools, went scuba diving with local children, and drew over 250 guests to a screening of his documentary Sharkwater.

Who are your conservation heroes?
After having the opportunity to spend Shark Conservation Week with Rob Stewart I would have to say he is at the top of my list. One person with one documentary was able to reach millions. How inspiring for someone so young to create such a beautiful documentary that helps change people’s perceptions of sharks and see them for what they really are, totally jawsome! Seeing him talk in person is inspiring and makes me want to have them same effect on an audience.

How would you suggest other people get involved in the protection of sharks?
I think it is really important to know your audience and be confident. You have to organize your argument and speak differently to a fisherman than would a government official or a school child. You have to understand what the person cares about and how they can benefit from shark protections. And make it fun for kids!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Leah Meth on Sharkbait's Chumline

Scott and his family.
Shark Attack Survivor for Shark Conservation Scott Curatolo-Wagemann interviewed Leah Meth on his podcast, Sharkbait's Chumline last week. The interview is split over three parts and can be found here, here, and here. I won't steal Scott and Leah's thunder, but in part one they talk about Leah and how she came up with Shark Stanley, part two talks about CITES in 2013, and part three talks about the new campaign.

Scott interviewed Angelo Villagomez about Shark Stanley and CITES two years ago, too. That interview plays over 5 parts, and you can find it here, here, here, here, and here.

Oh, and Scott's been helping us out for some time now.  Here he is with his son when he was only 3 1/2, helping out with our Shark Stanley campaign at CITES two years ago.

Scott and his son in 2013.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Youth Ambassador Profile: Jillian Morris

Jillian and Shark Stanley
As Shark Stanley circles the globe he comes across young people who are working to save sharks.  These Youth Ambassadors inspire the rest of us, old and young alike, to take action to make changes in our own backyards.

Jillian Morris is the founder and president of Sharks4Kids, a shark education organization based in Florida. She has a behavioral biology degree and is a professional videographer and photographer who spends most of her time on the island of Bimini, The Bahamas swimming with sharks.

All of the Youth Ambassadors are asked the same set of four questions.  Here's what Jillian had to say:

When and how did you first become interested in sharks?
I saw my first shark when I was 8 years old snorkeling in Florida. I was fascinated by all sea creatures, but was especially excited about seeing a shark in the wild. I was hooked (no pun intended) from that point!

How are you working to help save the world’s sharks?
I honestly believe kids can make a difference and that is why I started Sharks4Kids. Our goal is to empower and inspire students to speak up for sharks and for the oceans. We are providing students and teachers with a wide range of educational materials and information, as well as connecting with them in the classroom. We have spoken with over 20,000 students in 25 different countries and 42 US States!

Who are your conservation heroes?
Rachel Carson, Sylvia Earle and my mom!

How would you suggest other people get involved in the protection of sharks?
Do not buy shark products (meat, cartilage. Jaws or squalene based). This is a simple easy step we can all make. Do not be afraid to ask what is in something. Make sustainable seafood choices if you eat seafood. Where did it come from? How was it caught? If there is bycatch, is it sustainable? Get involved. Find a local organization to help with; read a shark book to kids at a school, volunteer at an event or join a beach cleanup.

You can follow Jillian on Twitter.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

5 Questions With Shark Stanley: Dr. Carl Safina

Carl Safina and Shark Stanley
Every week we profile an established shark champion or an up and coming ocean hero.  This week we were privileged to talk to Dr. Carl Safina, arguably the world's best science communicator.

Dr. Carl Safina is founding president of the Safina Center. Audubon magazine named him among the leading 100 conservationists of the 20th Century. His award-winning books include Song for the Blue Ocean and Voyage of the Turtle, and he’s been profiled by the New York Times, Nightline, and Bill Moyers. His awards include a Pew Fellowship, the John Burroughs Medal, Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Prize, among others.

We ask each of our ambassadors the same set of questions and they always have unique, inspiring perspectives.  Here is what Dr. Safina had to say:

Why are sharks important to you?
They don’t have to be important to me. They have been here for millions of years. With them, the world works. They help maintain the stability of natural communities in which they live. Personally I find them beautiful, exciting, and fascinating.

How are we going to save the world’s sharks? 
Leave them alone! They’ll know what to do. Honor their presence as right, because they belong in the world.

How are you working to protect sharks? 
I’ve helped work on restrictions to catches, bans on cutting off their fins, and wider appreciation. I like to fish for sharks but I don’t kill them. Sometimes I just like watching them from the boat or diving with them.

Lots of people look up to you, who are your conservation heroes? 
Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, and David Brower

What advice would you give to young conservationists?
Love nature, enjoy nature, get outside, find the right balance between enjoyment of nature and work to protect it, don’t get discouraged by small slow steps; that’s how it goes. But we have made lots of progress.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Shark Stanley and Dr. Sylvia Earle

Check out our launch in China with Dr. Sylvia A. Earle, Pew Environment and National Geographic! You can learn more about the campaign and download the new Adventures of Shark Stanley & Friends children's book for free at www.sharkstanley.com

Posted by Shark Stanley on Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Shark Stanley Ambassador Dr. Sylvia Earle was in China earlier this month to help us launch our campaign. She teamed up with The Pew Charitable Trusts and National Geographic to read the version of The Adventures of Shark Stanley and Friends that we made especially for China and Hong Kong to a group of students. To find out more about our campaign, visit us at www.SharkStanley.com, or follow the #SharkStanley hashtag on social media.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Save Thresher Tala!

Guest Blog
by Leah Meth

Meet Thresher Tala – Shark Stanley’s feisty friend from the Philippines! She’s the star of the #SaveThresherTala project, which is being led by our Shark Stanley Youth Ambassador Anna Oposa, her organization Save Philippine Seas, and a coalition of conservationists and dive shops across the country.

This is part of the larger Shark Stanley campaign – a global effort to mobilize grassroots support for shark conservation, tackling the issue from three key angles: supply, trade, and demand. The campaign is all about connecting young people around the world and bringing our collective voice to decision makers, with each of us – and each of our countries – having a unique role to play. In some places, we can advocate for shark sanctuaries and protection in our home waters; for others, we can help to reduce consumption and sale of sharks and shark products.  For others still, we can look to global agreements like CITES and CMS to make sure that trade and catch is sustainable. Working together, we can make a difference.

With that, we want to share some of the amazing things happening in the Philippines, where Tala is bringing some much needed attention to the need for thresher shark protections.

Threshers are large, migratory oceanic and coastal sharks found across the world’s oceans. All are slow to grow and reproduce, meaning, like many sharks, that they’re vulnerable to overexploitation. All three species – the bigeye, common, and pelagic thresher – are assessed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, with population declines of over 80% in much of their historical range. This is in part because of the global shark fin trade.

In the Philippines, thresher sharks are incredibly important to the economy. Monad Shoal, a coastal seamount in Cebu, is the only place in the world where scuba divers can see the rare pelagic thresher shark almost every day, fueling a growing tourism and scuba diving industry that supports the local economy.  People come from all over the world to see them. Threshers can also be seen in the waters of southern Cebu (Moalboal), Siargao, Bicol, and Batangas. Threshers, like all sharks, also play a key role in keeping ecosystems healthy because of their role in the food web as a top predator. However, they still remain unprotected by national law, which means they can still be fished and exported. As Anna Oposa says, “These are some of the many reasons why the Philippines should take the lead in protecting thresher sharks at home and globally.”

Save Philippine Seas is leading the movement with the #SaveThresherTala Campaign, calling upon the government to protect sharks nationally and to take the lead on protecting them internationally.  Specifically, they are calling on the government to (1) pass the Fisheries Administrative Order to protect thresher sharks in the Philippines and (2) propose the listing of all three species of threshers in CITES Appendix II by the end of 2015.

The campaign is like all of our other Shark Stanley campaigns.  You cut out the character, take a photo, and post it to social media using the hashtags #SharkStanley and #SaveThresherTala.

Each photo represents a signature on a unique petition that will be delivered on World Oceans Day on June 8th, 2015. Hundreds of kabayans have already shown their support and taken their photo.

Save Philippine Seas is also recruiting official “Fintastic Friends” to help the movement.  Want to learn more?  You can contact Anna at info[at]savephilippineseas[dot]org! You can also catch Tala and friends in person over the next few months at events across the country.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Youth Ambassador Profile: Dahlia Hassell

Dahlia and Shark Stanley go for a swim
As Shark Stanley circles the globe he comes across young people who are working to save sharks. These Youth Ambassadors inspire the rest of us, old and young alike, to take action to make changes in our own backyards.

Dahlia Hassell was raised on the small Dutch Caribbean island of Saba. From childhood, she participated in the after school environmental awareness programs of the Saba Conservation Foundation, where she developed her passion for protecting nature. In college, she majored in Biology and then returned to Saba to work as a Saba Bank Park Officer where she continues to help preserve the underwater environment.

All of the Youth Ambassadors are asked the same set of four questions. Here's what Dahlia had to say:

When and how did you first become interested in sharks?
I first became interested in sharks when the Saba Conservation team and I saved a baby nurse shark from a ghost trap. After that, I was hooked on learning more about sharks!

How are you working to help save the world’s sharks?
Through education in the primary and secondary schools, I am able to teach the children that sharks are not killing machines, and are desperately needed in our waters.

Who are your conservation heroes?
Susan Hurrell, Past Education Officer at the Saba Conservation Foundation; Lynn Costenaro, Founder of Sea & Learn in Saba; and Dr. Sylvia Earle.

How would you suggest other people get involved in the protection of sharks?
-Help spread awareness of the preservation of sharks through social media, education, and personal conversations.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Shark Stanley promotes global shark awareness in Turks & Caicos

Shark Defender Tina Randall with Shark Stanley and some students in the Turks & Caicos Islands
Local environmental advocates are working with animated sea character Shark Stanley to reach out to schools and businesses to increase awareness of shark conservation.

Shark Stanley is the face of the global shark awareness campaign dedicated to creating shark sanctuaries and supporting the proper management of sharks and rays.

Stanley has been busy visiting schools and appearing at community events to take ‘selfies’ with children and adults.

The character has been to the Oseta Jolly Primary School, Edward Gartland Youth Centre, and others educating why sharks are important to TCI and why people should care about their conservation.

Shark Stanley is the face of the global shark awareness campaign dedicated to creating shark sanctuaries and supporting the proper management of sharks and rays.

To learn more about Stanley and his cause, people can visit sharkstanley.com or the Facebook page Caribbean Shark Defenders.

To date, ten other countries and oversea territories have stepped up for sharks and created permanent protection.

Source: TC Weekly News

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sharks4Kids Event Celebrates Bahamas Launch of Shark Stanley

Shark Stanley, the friendly cartoon hammerhead shark, landed in Bimini on April 16 at Gateway Christian Academy for the official Bahamas launch of the children’s book The Adventures of Shark Stanley & Friends. Shark Stanley is a global ambassador for shark conservation and the main character in the science-based children’s book.

In conjunction with the Florida based global nonprofit Sharks4Kids, the Shark Stanley launch event included a shark lesson for the students, as well as a reading of the book to mark the official Bahamas launch of the Shark Stanley campaign. Sharks4Kids founders Jillian Morris and Duncan Brake taught the kids about sharks, specifically how scientists learn about them and why they are critically important for not only the Bahamas, but the oceans of the world.

The book, which was created in partnership with the United States-based The Pew Charitable Trusts, uses scientific and economic research about the importance of sharks to marine ecosystems, tourism, and food security in a format that is fun and accessible to young people. The accompanying social media campaign involves taking photos while holding a cutout of Shark Stanley or one of his 17 shark species friends and posting the pictures to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #SharkStanley, linking a global network of conservation-minded youth.

“We were thrilled to work with students in Bimini, home to some of the most amazing shark diving in the world,” said Sharks4Kids co-founder Jillian Morris. “We really want the students to be excited about what’s in their own backyard and also take pride in their country’s shark sanctuary. The islands of Bimini are very small, but with the shark sanctuary, shark eco-tourism and the Bimini Biological Field Station, they are really setting a global standard for protecting sharks!”

The goal of Sharks4Kids is to create the next generation of shark advocates through education, outreach and adventure. The website provides students and teachers access to a dynamic range of educational materials and experiences. Curriculum, games and activities allow teachers to integrate shark education into their science programs on an introductory, intermediate or advanced level. Students can access games, activities and info sheets to satisfy their own curiosity about sharks. Classroom visits, student snorkeling trips and shark-tagging expeditions also provide hands-on experiences in the world of shark science and conservation. Sharks4Kids believes kids can make a difference and their goal is to inspire and empower them to do so.

“Sharks are in trouble in nearly every corner of the planet and the Shark Stanley campaign is an opportunity to educate the world’s youth about the plight of sharks and their importance to the oceans,” said Leah Meth, co-author of The Adventures of Shark Stanley & Friends. “Shark Stanley unites the youth of the world and we’re so thrilled to see his conservation message arrive in the Bahamas.”

Approximately 100 hundred million sharks are killed annually in commercial fisheries and scientific research shows that 30 percent of known shark species assessed by scientists are threatened with extinction. Continued declines in shark populations jeopardize the important role sharks play maintaining the health of the entire ocean. Many species of sharks are top predators, and they regulate the variety and abundance of species in the food web, including commercially important fish species. Sharks also help to maintain healthy marine habitats, such as coral reefs. Additionally, sharks are a favorite species for many SCUBA divers to see, making their presence equally critical to the tourism industry. The Bahamas proved to be a leader in shark conservation in the Caribbean by passing legislation that designated the country’s full EEZ a shark sanctuary in 2011.

The Bimini event on April 16 is one of 10 global Shark Stanley launches happening all over the world during the month of April, including events in Grenada, China, Fiji, Samoa, Canada, the United States, Turks and Caicos Islands, Hong Kong, and the Philippines.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Palau Marine Sanctuary Gaining Momentum

We've been following the Palau news closely for news of the operator that took the shark selfies (found this story in Tia Belau) and found that there are other great environmental initiatives taking place besides sharks.

The proposal for a fully protected marine reserve in Palau is moving closer to reality. The Island Times, a local newspaper, reports that there is near unanimous support with the country's 16 popularly elected governors.
15 Of 16 Governors Support Palau Marine Sanctuary
‘Immediate action needed to address declining fish stocks’

Fifteen of sixteen governors in this island nation are backing the plan to create a National Marine Sanctuary.

In their letter to President Remengesau dated January 26, 2015, the governors said the proposed marine sanctuary will be good for the people of Palau and all sixteen states.

The letter was signed by Governors Temmy Shmull of Peleliu, Leilani Reklai of Aimeliik, Browny Salvador of Ngarchelong, Jeffrey Titiml of Kayangel, Aloysius Tellei of Melekeok, Ellender Ngirameketii of Ngiwal, Duane Hideo of Ngchesar, Wilson Ongos of Ngaremlengui, Renguul Masahiro of Ngardmau, Tmewang Rengulbai of Airai, Isaac Bai of Ngaraard, Jersey Iyar of Ngatpang, Marvin Ngirutang of Angaur, and Thomas Patris of Hatohobei.

Then Governor Jacob Yangilmau of Sonsorol also signed the letter. Yangilmau, who resigned from office in February of this year, was replaced by Lieutenant Governor Damien Albis, who is believed to be supportive of the sanctuary plan.

“He is hedging,” said a person with intimate knowledge of the issue. Island Times was not able to get Adachi’s reason for opposing such initiative as of press time.

The Governors said in their letter noted the acute problem of dwindling fish resources.

“There is no doubt that over the years we have seen fewer and fewer fish in our state waters. At the same time we have seen an increase in fish prices at the local fish markets. This has forced our people to rely on imported and less healthy foods that are cheaper to feed their families with. The preservation of our culture and our health required that we take steps to increase our fish stocks and thereby lower prices of fish for our citizens,” they stated.

The Governors said immediate action is needed to address declining fish stocks.

“While we understand that the Sanctuary does not cover our state waters, we do believe that the health of the Ocean in our state waters is being threatened. Moreover, our traditions taught us that we must respect the Ocean and take action to temporarily stop fishing if there are signs that fish stocks are under threat. Clearly our fish stocks are under threat,” they added.

“The Marine Sanctuary will therefore help replenish our Oceans while making more fish available for locals. It makes sense both environmentally and economically. Moreover, under new legislation funding to the states will not be reduced; in fact under existing treaties and through enhanced tourism like catch and release fishing, our state revenues could actually increase. Therefore, we collectively express our unconditional support to the proposed Marine Sanctuary legislation pending in the National Congress,” they further stated.

The proposal on the National Marine Sanctuary put forward by President Remengesau includes a complete prohibition on purse seine fishing that covers 100 percent of the EEZ; a no-take Marine Sanctuary that covers over 80 percent of the Palau EEZ; a highly regulated Fishing Zone that covers approximately 20 percent of the EEZ that will provide for only Palau’s domestic fishing needs; and a prohibition on commercial fish exports.

The proposal to create a Palau National Marine Sanctuary has been introduced and pending in the Senate as Senate Bill No. 9-30.

The plan is also backed by the Palau Chamber of Commerce, Council of Chiefs, state legislatures, Belau Boaters Association, Palau Sports Fishing Association, Northern Reef Fisheries Alliance, Ocean Elders (comprised of many prominent international figures like Queen Noor of Jordan, Prince Albert of Monaco, CNN founder Ted Turner and others), National Geographic, RMI President Christopher Loeak, and many others.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Shark Stanley Ambassador Rob Stewart's new movie Revolution is being released online on Earth Day, April 22. You can get more details on his website therevolutionmovie.com. When you watch the film, keep an eye out for the prettiest little island in the entire world: Saipan. In 2011, school children from Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands rallied to protect sharks.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

5 Questions With Shark Stanley: Sylvia Earle

Dr. Sylvia Earle and Shark Stanley in China.
One name gets mentioned more than all others when we ask people to name their ocean heroes: Sylvia Earle.  She is our newest Shark Ambassador

Sylvia Earle, called "Her Deepness" by the New Yorker and the New York Times, "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress and "Hero for the Planet" by Time, is an oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer with a deep commitment to research through personal exploration.

Earle's work has been at the frontier of deep ocean exploration for four decades. Earle has led more than 50 expeditions worldwide involving more than 6,000 hours underwater. As captain of the first all-female team to live underwater, she and her fellow scientists received a ticker-tape parade and White House reception upon their return to the surface. In 1979, Sylvia Earle walked untethered on the sea floor at a lower depth than any other woman before or since. In the 1980s she started the companies Deep Ocean Engineering and Deep Ocean Technologies with engineer Graham Hawkes to design and build undersea vehicles that allow scientists to work at previously inaccessible depths. In the early 1990s, Dr. Earle served as Chief Scientist of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. At present she is explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society.

Dr. Earle reading The Adventures of Shark Stanley and Friends to students in China
Sylvia Earle is a dedicated advocate for the world's oceans and the creatures that live in them. Her voice speaks with wonder and amazement at the glory of the oceans and with urgency to awaken the public from its ignorance about the role the oceans plays in all of our lives and the importance of maintaining their health.

We ask our Shark Ambassadors the same set of five questions. Here's what Dr. Earle had to say:

Why are sharks important to you?
Sharks are important to the health of the ocean. Healthy oceans are important for people. If the ocean is in trouble, we are in trouble. If sharks are in trouble, we are in trouble. Taking care of sharks means taking care of the ocean and taking care of us.

How are we going to save the world’s sharks?
The best way is to stop killing them. The next important step is to protect the ocean, where sharks live. There is more than one way to kill a shark – poison with pollution, take their food, destroy their habitat. The most important thing people must know is why sharks matter and to take action individually and together to respect them, stop killing them, and protect the ocean from harm.

How are you working to protect sharks?
I speak for sharks to fellow scientists, the general public, and anyone and everyone to inspire them to know to care about sharks. I continue to explore the ocean to observe what’s happening as a witness. If people know about sharks, they might care. They can’t care if they don’t know. I do what I can to convey the importance of sharks wherever and however I can.

Lots of people look up to you, who are your conservation heroes?
My heroes range from children who are doing what they can to influence the people around them to care for sharks, the ocean, and the natural world. Also, teachers, artists, musicians, scientists, business leaders, and politicians who individually and together use their power to take care of nature and work to make the world a better place.

What advice would you give to young scientists?
Be glad you are an aspiring scientist early in the 21st century armed with the opportunities that didn’t exist any time in the past. Never before could we know the importance of understanding the natural world and our place in it. Never again will there be a better time to use the power of knowing to ensure the enduring future of human kind. 90% of the ocean has never been seen by anyone. There are mysteries to be solved everywhere. The greatest era of exploration has just begun and you can be a part of it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Bad Korean Tourist

There are photos circulating on the Internet today of a young Korean girl in Palau holding a shark.  She posted the photos to her Instagram profile (which has since been deleted).  We're reposting the photos here so that the authorities in Palau can investigate.

The photo getting the most attention shows her holding a juvenile grey reef shark out of the water.  I think that's her dive master or boat captain on the right.  Anyone know his name?

A few minutes later she posted a second photo holding the shark.  Palau is a shark sanctuary and it is illegal to fish for sharks.  If you accidentally catch a shark, it should be released while still in the water, not brought on board for selfies.

They were also collecting giant clams.  I don't think that's Tridacna gigas, but is this legal for tourists to do in the Rock Islands?

So can you help?  Here's a photo she posted of her dive boat.  Can you help identify which shop this is?  I hope that the authorities can go pay them a visit and remind them not to harass sharks.


The Palauan authorities are investigating the tour operator. We will follow the story and post updates.

Also, there has been much discussion on social media about how the shark was caught accidentally.  The catching of the shark was not illegal; the law was broken when the shark was brought on board the vessel.

The Palau Shark Sanctuary law reads:
(i)f any shark is inadvertently caught or captured, it shall be immediately released, whether dead or alive; if the shark is caught or captured alive, it shall be released in the manner that affords it the greatest opportunity for survival.
The law continues:
to possess, receive, sell, transfer, store, have on board, or transship any shark, or any part of any shark. For the purpose of this subsection, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that if any shark, or any part of a shark, is found aboard a vessel the shark, or shark part, was possessed or transferred in violation of this subsection.
The criminal penalties for violating this law are "punishable by a fine of not more than $250,000."

The dive shop should be worried because the authorities in Palau are known to enforce their laws.  Just last month they handed out a $100,000 fine to a vessel that was illegally fishing in Palauan waters and found with 304 sharks aboard their vessel.  In neighboring Saipan, a dive master was recently jailed for six months after he posted a photo to Facebook of an eagle ray he killed.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Shark Stanley News From Grenada

Nearly 350 Grenadians showed up for the global launch of Shark Stanley last Thursday. The day's events were reported on by local media Community Channel 6. Here's the video:

international organization on a drive to preserve the lives of sharks

A global organization is in Grenada on a drive to protect sharks, which they say are being killed for commercial reasons, and the group recently staged a shark Stanley launch campaign in the Isle of Spice.

Posted by CC6 on Friday, April 10, 2015

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Shark Stanley is Live!

We are in St. Georges, Grenada today to launch the next chapter of The Adventures of Shark Stanley and Friends!  Won't you help us spread the word to create shark sanctuaries around the world?

You can start by visiting out instructions page and then share our Healthy Reefs Need Sharks Youtube video with Richard Branson.  Thanks for your help!  To get you started, here are the books and 18 characters:

English | Mandarin | Cantonese | Dutch | Papiamento | Spanish | French

Hammerhead | Oceanic Whitetip | Manta | Spotted Eagle Ray | Porbeagle | Mako | Thresher | Silky | Great White | Whale | Basking | Blacktip Reef | Caribbean Reef | Nurse | Tiger | Lemon | Blue | Grey Reef

Grenada Event Kicks off Global “Shark Stanley” Campaign and Celebrates Grenada National Learn to Swim Week

On April 9 from 3:30-5:30 pm, St. George’s Youth Center in St. George's, Grenada will serve as the site for the global launch of the “Shark Stanley” campaign. Shark Stanley—a friendly cartoon hammerhead—is the global ambassador for shark conservation. He’s the star of The Adventures of Shark Stanley and Friends, a science-based children’s book, as well as its accompanying social media campaign.

In conjunction with Grenada National Learn to Swim Week, the event will welcome participating children from across Grenada to mark the official global launch of the Shark Stanley campaign, while celebrating swimming education and marine conservation. The event will feature fun activities for kids including face-painting, music, temporary shark tattoos, and a bouncy castle, as well as a reading of The Adventures of Shark Stanley and Friends by author, Leah Meth.

The book uses scientific and economic research about the importance of sharks to the marine ecosystem, tourism, and food security in a format that is fun and accessible to young people. The accompanying social media campaign involves taking photos holding a cutout of Shark Stanley or one of his seventeen shark species friends and posting them to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #SharkStanley, linking a global network of conservation-minded youth.

“It is incredibly exciting that our island is serving as the global launch site for the Shark Stanley campaign,” said Krisma Moore, Grenadian marine biologist and graduate of the St. George’s University. “Shark Stanley’s educational message is so important for helping Grenada’s youth understand the importance of marine conservation and we’re so proud to link this message with the good work of Grenada National Learn to Swim Week.”

One hundred million sharks are killed annually in commercial fisheries. Scientific research has demonstrated that thirty percent of known shark species assessed by scientists are threatened with extinction. `Sharks play an important role in maintaining the health of the entire ocean. Many species of sharks are top predators, and they regulate the variety and abundance of species in the food web, including commercially important fish species. Sharks also help to maintain healthy marine habitats, such as coral reefs. Sharks are one of the top species that SCUBA divers want to see, thus their presence is critical to the tourism industry.

Thursday’s event is first of 10 global Shark Stanley launches happening all over the world including events in China, The Bahamas, Fiji, Samoa, Canada, the United States, Turks and Caicos Islands, Hong Kong and the Philippines.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

5 Questions With Shark Stanley: Rob Stewart

Rob Stewart and Shark Stanley
As we prepare for the global launch of The Adventures of Shark Stanley and Friends tomorrow, I thought I'd introduce you to our next Shark Ambassador, Rob Stewart.  Do we really need to introduce who he is?  You're reading a shark blog right now.  Everyone in the shark world knows Rob, right?

Rob Stewart is an award winning wildlife photographer, filmmaker, conservationist and educator from Canada. Rob studied biology and photography at schools in Jamaica, Kenya, Ontario and New York. Stewart produced, directed and starred in the award-winning film, Sharkwater. His photography and cinematography has appeared in media around the world including BBC Wildlife, Discovery Channel, ABC, Asian Diver, and Entertainment Tonight.

We've had to good fortune to work with Rob for several years now.  He was instrumental in passing the shark fin trade bans in Saipan and Guam and is now helping out in the Turks & Caicos Islands.

We ask our Shark Ambassadors the same set of five questions.  Here's what Rob had to say:

Why are sharks important to you?
Sharks are important to me because as a child they fascinated me. They were like dragons but they were real. As I learned more about them, I understood their significance to life on earth, and to our survival as a species. They're part of the framework for life in the oceans, upon which we depend on for survival.

How are we going to save the world’s sharks?
Education is paramount. When people understand a problem, their morals and feelings engage, they make better decisions and hold their friends and families accountable for the same decisions. Once people understand the problem, some of those will take on the challenge of doing something about it in a bigger way - getting shark fin banned, creating shark sanctuaries, and working on decreasing the demand for shark products.

How are you working to protect sharks?
I'm trying to empower humanity to be the best it can be to tackle this challenge, and others threatening our world. I work with an open source conservation campaign called Fin Free - that provides tools to any group or individual working on shark fin bans; I'm on the boards of a few great shark conservation charities, and try to use my media to bolster any shark conservation campaign that could use it.

Lots of people look up to you, who are your conservation heroes?
Martin Luther King Jr, David Suzuki, Paul Watson, Bob Marley, and Fela Kuti.

What advice would you give to young filmmakers?
Take the first step, don't be afraid. Lean in. By working for good, for life, or for conservation, your task will call out the best in you. There has never been a better time to be a filmmaker or conservationist and the world has never needed you more.
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