Shark Organizations to Sink Your Teeth Into
Happy Shark Week! Looking for some shark organizations to sink your teeth into? … I mean get involved with? Then swim no further! Okay, I promise this is the fin of the shark puns…
Project AWARE was founded in the 1980s, and for the last 25+ years they have worked to protect our oceans from the threats they face. What started as a project among the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) has evolved into a worldwide movement to protect the ocean. According to their website, they advance programs that address the greatest threats facing the ocean. Those threats must be grounded in sound science and fulfill the interests and needs of our community with ‘both fins on and fins off.’ In 2018, Project AWARE is focusing on “community and advancing policies on Plastic Debris and Sharks & Rays.” One of their current campaigns is ‘Say “No” to Single Use Plastic,’ in which you can take the pledge to say “no” to single-use items like plastic bags, disposable water bottles, straws, and more.
OCEARCH is recognized worldwide as a leader in “generating critical scientific data related to the telemetry (tracking) and biological studies of keystone marine species such as great white and tiger sharks, in conjunction with conservation outreach and education on a measurable global scale.” OCEARCH’s founder and expedition leader, Chris Fischer, facilitated the group’s ability to share real-time data through their Global Shark Tracker, a tool that rich amounts of previously unavailable data. With support from names such as YETI, Yamaha, Contender, SAFE Boats, oneQube and Costa Sunglasses, OCEARCH has completed 28 expeditions as of April 2017 and proved to have a strong digital outreach presence. You can follow along with OCEARCH and the sharks they’ve tagged sharks by downloading the Global Shark Tracker App, available for both Apple and Android devices.
Respect the Fin was created in order to promote awareness of the horrors of shark finning and to educate the general public on just how crucial sharks are to our marine ecosystems. Respect the Fin uses capitalism through their ambassador (cause marketing) program to promote their charity, donating. 20% of their profits to Sharks4Kids in order to further the conservation and educational efforts of the program. Respect the Fin’s ambassador program is open for those of you who want to promote their message of saving the sharks. At the very least, may I suggest one of their super trendy hats? Why not rock a hat that promotes a great cause?
Sharks have earned a bad reputation over the years, from their portrayal in movies (I’m looking at you, Jaws), to the constant fear of their presence being spread throughout the media as tourists flock to beaches. Sharks4Kids hopes to change that narrative by teaching kids why sharks play an important role in our oceans. Their mission statement states: “The goal of Sharks4Kids is to create a new generation of shark advocates through access to a dynamic range of educational materials. Curriculum, games and activities will 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.” Sharks4Kids is educating the world’s youngest minds in order to guarantee we save the sharks.
At the top of their “What We Do” page, Shark Angels lists a harrowing fact. Up to 73m sharks will be killed this year, meaning over 10,000 sharks will be killed each hour. The Shark Angels are focused on defending and serving as guardian angels to sharks by leading a worldwide movement to inspire others to take action on their behalf. The organization brings shark survival issues to the forefront of public knowledge by sharing digital media that is graphic, but incredible eye-opening and extremely engaging (warning: some of their media is pretty intensely graphic, but it’s also extremely heartbreaking. View at your own discretion). The Shark Angels list multiple ways that you can help save the sharks. Just a few of those methods include becoming an Angel, refusing to consume or purchase shark products, speaking out against practices that are harmful to sharks, and doing research to make sure any seafood you’re eating is sustainably sourced and responsibly harvested.
Predators in Peril is an organization whose main goals are to draw attention to the plight of highly vulnerable elasmobranch (shark and ray) species and to provide images of undocumented species for conservation initiatives, while simultaneously channeling community support into productive grassroots conservation movements. The Predators in Peril Project works with artisanal shark fishermen and scientific researchers in order to gain footage of rare or endangered sharks and rays. After every expedition, the Predators in Peril Project initiates an intensive social media campaign in order to gain awareness and exposure for the species amidst digital audiences. Unlike holistic shark conservation groups, the Predators in Peril Project plays to a crucial niche, focusing on lesser known species that play critical roles in marine ecosystems.
Bite-Back is a UK-based charity founded in 2004 that is dedicated to shark and marine conservation, with a primary goal of combating overfishing and overconsumption of wild saltwater fish. Bite-Back has three core programmatic foci: Educate, Eliminate and Motivate. They seek to highlight the environmental risks of overfishing and change negative public perceptions of sharks, stop shops and restaurants from selling shark and other threatened marine life, and inspire compassion for the marine environment and empower supporters. Bite-Back promotes the idea that “the biggest threat to marine life is believing someone else will save it,” and I think that’s something we can all remember.
Sharks are crucial to our marine ecosystems, and while they tend to have a bad reputation (again, looking at you Jaws) there is no reason we shouldn't work to protect them. Fun fact: our oceans are salty due to the tears of all the misunderstood sharks that just want to cuddle! Okay...maybe that's fake news, but a shark's favorite type of candy is a jaw-breaker! In all seriousness though, take a moment to visit the websites of these sharktastic organizations! Catch ya on the fin-side!