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.
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