Friday, September 28, 2012
Australia is a modern country, but governmental decisions regarding great white sharks are archaic. In recent news, Western Australian State Premier Colin Barnett reported the lives of people are valued above sharks. “This is, after all, a fish-let’s keep it in perspective.” Yes, Colin sharks are fish, but they are fish that are vital for the survival of the oceans. I am a shark lover, but the cold hard fact is oceans will die without sharks.
He reassures people the sharks will only be hunted if they, “pose a threat.” So is a shark swimming too close to a beach, according to government standards, a threat? Is a shark following a school of bait fish or other possible prey where its food sources are being depleted, a threat? This is absurd. Where are sharks supposed to go? The assumptions being made are any shark near a beach must have PEOPLE on its’ blood thirsty mind. We all know the saying about the word assume, “ it makes an ASS out of U and ME.” In this case the emphasis is on the “U,” being Western Australian law makers. Are we so superior in our intelligence and our rights to the planet, we can now read the minds of sharks and know that they are posing a threat? Seriously?
Australia is across the world from where I live, but this mentality runs rampant across cultures and countries. No matter where in the world you are, this thinking pattern is unacceptable. Killing sharks is not the answer. The world is killing as many as they can for profit and all it is doing is damaging our oceans, thus proving that killing is not the answer.
If you live in Australia, I suggest sending emails, letters and calling you representatives and voicing your concerns. You have a responsibility to protect the ocean and you have a voice.
CONTACT COLIN BARNETT
Phone: +61 8 9383 1505
SIGN THE PETITION
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
The sport of SUP ( Stand Up Paddleboard) is taking over and although I am very new to it, I love it. It is a brilliant way to see the world without noisy interference. I was recently interviewed on the SUP Radio Show talking about sharks. SUP followers love water and with this comes a want to keep our oceans healthy. Sharks are necessary for healthy oceans, so the pieces all fit together for one common goal.
Thanks Leslie for bringing sharks into the mix. Can’t wait to get you in the water!
Friday, September 21, 2012
The US has said they would put forth a proposal to get Oceanic White Tip sharks listed on the Appendix II at CITES and this has yet the happen. The deadline is fast approaching and sharks need us now. Please contact your US representatives and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
Phone: (202) 208-3100
FIND YOU REPRESENTATIVES HERE
FIND YOUR SENATORS HERE
Oceanic whitetip sharks have declined dramatically and need to be protected. CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, is the only international body that can provide meaningful global protection.The United States government has been expected to propose oceanic whitetips for Appendix II listing at CITES. However, the October 4th deadline is approaching and there is still no sign of a proposal. Sharks are necessary for the survival of our oceans and our planet needs sharks. Please speak up on behalf of the environment and help protect these amazing animals.
Also check out SHARK SAVERS for more information.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
I will happily and enthusiastically talk to anyone about sharks and I am sure those that know me can attest to this. I especially love talking to kids about sharks and today I did just that at two different schools. My first visit was to Central School in South Berwick, Maine; a school that I attended as a 5th grader. A little surreal to step foot into that miniature world again as an adult.
I talked to 6 second grade classes broken into 3 groups. I prefer smaller groups because it makes interaction between me and the kids a lot easier. It also means I can usually get to everyone’s questions. I am not one to talk at students, but want to hear what they think and engage them in conversations. I probably ask them almost as many questions as they ask me. I want them to know that what they have to say is important and that they can make a difference. I cannot stand there in front of them and tell them that they can help sharks and then not offer them the chance to speak up.
I have an outline for the presentation, but let each group guide the flow. Each group of students is unique with a dynamic range of stories and questions. If they want to talk about shark ears for a while then we can talk about shark ears for a while. They do get a giggle when the image of a lemon shark with human ears pops onto the screen. I love that laughter.
Once again I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of knowledge these kids have about sharks and the problems they are facing. They have more passion than they can even realize at this stage in the life, but it is raw, powerful and infectious. The smiles on their faces and the hugs after the talk are worth more than all the money in the world. Yes, I am getting a little choked up at the moment.
One little girl had her desk lined with stuffed sharks. AWESOME! I met each shark and then she got to meet Lucky.
In the last class I visited a few of the kids came up and asked for my autograph and if I could draw a shark for them. OH MY GOD!! This made my heart melt. They were so sincere and I quickly began scribbling the cartoon shark I always draw onto pieces of paper with giant Crayola markers and crayons! I don’t feel worthy of signing autographs, but I can hope that those pieces of paper stand as a reminder for those kids that they can helps sharks and they can help our oceans.
Great thank you cards!!!
Kids are like amazing sponges at that age and it is important to provide them with positive images and facts about the ocean world. There are so many negative things about sharks that define most encounters they will have; I want to give them tools to questions those, “ myths.” and dare to speak up. They are all junior scientists that can ask questions just like real scientists. This is an important job and I know most of the them will take it very seriously.
I traveled to the next school to speak to the first graders at Berwick Academy. They gathered on the floor around me and I found myself sitting down next them. We chatted about sharks, talked about the oceans and they got to pass around some sharks tags and even Lucky and Monty got some love.
After four 45 minute presentations I am exhausted, but my heart is happy. I gain even more respect for teachers every time I visit a school. Teachers do this everyday without the recognition they deserve and I want to thank Erin Darling at Central and Susan Morris at Berwick Academy for being integral in facilitating my visit to the schools. I am looking forward to many more. Also, thank you Erin for the whoopie pies. You obviously know the way to a Maine girl’s heart! Thank you Kelsey Boston and Dylan for getting the ball rolling on my visit to Central.
Thanks to Maine kids for caring about Sharks! I look forward to the next time I visit!
Monday, September 17, 2012
Today I talked to 6th graders at Berwick Academy about sharks and why they need our help. We started to talk about finning and one girl raised her hand. “ Why do people kill so many sharks?” This is an excellent question. The answer changes dynamically depending on where in the world you are, but money, greed and fear are my top answers. Yes, people kill sharks to eat them, but for the most part shark populations are being decimated because of money and greed. A single whale shark fin can sell for $15,000 US. It provides no nutritional value, is environmentally detrimental and really serves no purpose at all. The fishermen that spend months at sea in terrible conditions do not see those millions. A limited few reap the, “benefits,” of the shark slaughter. It boggles my mind that the money and power of so few can impact so many.
I always remind the kids that they have a voice. It is hard to think at the age of 11 or 12 that you can say or do a lot that will have an impact, but it does. Kids have a connection to the world and access to the tools to save it. They can influence their parents purchasing power, educate other adults around them and then in turn make their own choices as they grow up.
If I try to convince a 40 year old fisherman that slaughtering a shark just for its jaws is wrong, I might get a hostile response decorated with some colorful expressions. If his son or daughter asks him why he does it or asks him to stop, then he might actually think about the situation. Kids are powerful and their voices are heard.
This group is lucky because their science teacher, my mom, will discuss sharks throughout the year. She will be able to share her own experiences because she has been to Australia to tag tiger sharks. How awesome is that? My mom’s passion for the ocean is infectious and I wish that more kids could have a teacher like her!
I wish I could visit classrooms every week because it is a constant reminder of hope and inspiration.
Thanks to Berwick Academy for opening up your classrooms and making a difference. Thanks to my mom, Mrs. Morris, for being an amazing role model and shark lover!
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
I was recently interviewed for a local Maine news program! Aside from the 30m rogue wave ( OOPS MEANT 30 FT AND NO EDIT) was a cool opportunity and has received a lot of positive feedback. Even got our wedding pic up there!
WATCH THE VIDEO
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Everything we do in life has its positives and negatives; shark conservation is certainly no exception to this. Each week strides are made and then there are usually massive set backs. It would be easy to throw your hands up in defeat as it can be very overwhelming.
Early last week I received an email with a video link sharing some ego driven fisherman catching a bull shark on the dock in Bimini. The worst part was that not only were they fishing in a Shark Free Marina that bans fishing from the dock, but they highlighted the fact that they were breaking the rules with absolute disregard. The email explosion started and spread across social media outlets.The initial email responses were respectful and the host even asked if I wanted to appear on his show to talk about Shark Free Marinas and the work that is being done to protect these animals in Bimini. I was impressed with his openness to hear the other side of the story. A lot of time the responses are defensive and belligerent. When my mother drafted an email her response was a bit more entitled and I could tell that he was probably getting swamped with emails and calls and getting annoyed.
This one was extremely frustrating because I am on the board for Shark Free Marinas and it is something I am extremely passionate about as well as this being in my back yard. Bimini is home and these sharks deserve every bit of energy we can offer to protect them. It was amazing to see the manager of the marina, the Sharklab, former Sharklab staff and current members of Bimini Tourism board push hard to defend the sharks of Bimini. This isn’t just about sharks, but also about respecting rules that are put in place to benefit not only the oceans, but the community.
The next day I was scheduled to do a shark presentation for two groups of second graders at a local school. I gathered my frustration and turned it into enthusiasm for the time with the kids. I love this age and was excited to spend time with them. I went through the basics of what a shark is and what sharks do. We also talked about what they could do, even though they are young, to help sharks. They were all so excited, sharing stories and wanting to know more about different types of sharks. I love it. I love the energy and the hope that resonates within children. I left the school feeling recharged and ready to tackle the next shark obstacle.
I arrived home and checked my email only to find that within 24 hours, the owner of the video agreed to remove it from the internet. Again, we all have a voice and sometimes it is just a matter of speaking up. At this point, charged with energy from the kids, I felt like I could conquer the world and set to working on more projects and presentations. Every time there is a set back I try to think of the kids. There really is hope and we must keep that in mind. Fighting for something we care about and believe in is never easy, but it is worth every bit of the battle.
Monty and Lucky ready for their school visit!