Countless people have imprecise feelings about sharks. Sharks have a reputation for being aggressive, murderous beasts. However, in most cases, sharks are very docile creatures. The main reason shark attacks against humans occur is because they think we are food, or they do not what they are investigating us. Since sharks don’t have hands to feel things out, their mouths are used to distinguish their surroundings. People have this idea that sharks just go around attacking every person they say, but sharks are the cause of less than 10 human casualties per year. If anyone is a murderous beast in this relationship, it’s humans.
Every year humans slaughter approximately 100 million sharks for food, cosmetics, and medicine. So many sharks are killed per year that their populations do not have enough time to replenish. There has been a rapid and steady decline in shark populations over the past several decades, and we are the cause.
Many people and organizations that advocate for marine conservation are starting to raise awareness for the importance, beauty, and truth of sharks. More and more groups solely dedicated to shark conservation are popping up, making it easy for anyone to gain knowledge of sharks, and why it is important we stop slaughtering them.
*(I must add that although sharks rarely attack for no reason, they are still unpredictable, wild animals and should be treated as such)
Founded in 2007 by Julie Andersen, Shark Angels has been dedicated to changing the narrative on how we view sharks. Anderson’s inspiration for conserving sharks stems from the horrors she has seen firsthand of the shark finning industry. From then on, she dedicated her life to unveiling the truth behind the sharking industry.
The non-profit has many different options for educating the public on sharks. Under the “Shark Science” tab on their website, you can find over a dozen articles explaining unique research done on several different shark species. Each article is concise and delivers the background, method, and findings of each topic in a way that anyone can understand. Research is performed by a wide variety of individuals ranging from interns to college professors. Topics addressed include shark behaviors, eating habits, and threats. Allowing this type of information to be available to the public and in a way that is easy to understand allows individuals to see the shark's true selves.
Shark Angels also offers 8 digital presentations to learn even more about the incredible species. Live presentations include a brief Q&A at the end to answer any questions the audience has on the topic. Age recommendations range from only 6 years old to mature adults, so those of any age can feel comfortable learning about sharks.
Educating the public about sharks is a key factor in conserving them. Too many people still have a negative connotation about sharks, which means not enough people care about ending the slaughter of sharks. If more people become educated on any details about sharks whether it be their behavior, importance to the ecosystem, or simply fun facts, they will be more inclined to have positive attributes associated with sharks; thus leading more people to advocate for the conservation of sharks.
One Ocean Diving
A world-renowned division of One Ocean Hawaii, One Ocean Diving allows any person regardless of background to dive with sharks. One Ocean is dedicated to research, education, and conservation of marine life. Their One Ocean Diving Pelagic Program, which was founded by marine biologist and conservationist Ocean Ramsey, takes guests on a two hour excursion off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. Divemasters and marine biologists are there to provide not only safety but also tons of education on marine life and conservation. All gear is provided (however personal gear is always welcomed), and there is a professional photography add-on if desired. Marine life of all kinds is seen on the trips including dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and most anticipated, sharks.
Giving the public first-hand access to seeing sharks in their natural habitat is a crucial part of shark conservation. Many people claim to be terrified of sharks before diving with One Ocean, but after their experience, they have nothing but love and admiration for them. One Ocean Diving is introducing countless people to the misunderstood apex species, and why we should be saving them. Between knowledge acquired by the experts, and seeing sharks up close and personal, there’s not a chance a person cannot be inspired. The more people who understand the complexity and truth about sharks, the more people fighting for them.
Friends, Not Food
The most deadly industry against sharks is without a doubt shark finning. Sharks get their fins cut off alive, and are left sinking to the bottom of the ocean to die of starvation. Their fins are used to make shark fin soup and medicine, primarily in East Asian countries. You don’t have to love, or even like, sharks to stand up for their lives. Making yourself more knowledgeable about sharks and why they are important, as well as the dreadful industries that slaughter them, could make an impact on you and those around you. Sharks are friends, not food.