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.
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