Sharks. We love ’em. That’s certainly the feeling we got from Aquasport club members who attended the two AWARE Shark Conservation presentations held at the centre.
We discovered that sharks are crucial to marine ecosystems. They maintain a balance in populations of prey species and keep the ocean healthy by removing ill or diseased animals. And we want to go and dive with them.
We also learned the shocking statistics of the unseen shark slaughter going on around the globe. Millions are snatched from the oceans each year to feed different industries, whether it’s for their fins for tasteless soup, their liver oil for cosmetics or their jaws for some gruesome trinket.
It would have been easy for you to walk away from the presentations feeling nothing but doom and gloom. But, typical of Aquasport divers you resolved to step up to become a champion of shark protection and take action to help them. The future of sharks hinges on holding shark fishing and trade to sustainable levels.
Read on to find out how you can help and check out a heart-breaking campaign video.
Project AWARE Foundation: Authors of the Shark Conservation Course, Project Aware is a growing global movement of scuba divers protecting the ocean planet. We know them because some of us donate for a limited edition cert card when completing courses. But over the past two decades the Foundation has been at the forefront of underwater conservation and are leading the way with two major ocean campaigns – Sharks in Peril and Marine Debris.
Their website is packed full of information about sharks, the threats and what is being done to compaign for their protection. You can join the movement online by entering your email address, sign the general shark petition in the Action Zone, donate cash to fund research and create a MyOcean profile to link with like-minded people. They are now mounting a major push to get CITES – a worldwide wildlife protection organisation – to introduce further measures to protect sharks. Sign their petition here
Bite-Back is A pioneering shark and marine conservation charity with a clear focus and a ‘let’s get things done’ attitude, Bite-Back is running successful campaigns to end the sale of shark fin soup in Britain. It is also busy exposing UK retailers that profit from shark-derived products and inspiring them to stop. Check out their website to see some of the high profile victories they have enjoyed. Sign up and join their movement. Bite-Back also does a nice line in T-shirts, calendar and other merchandise with profits funding action.
And if you want a scare, check out the following video. It was produced for Halloween but was deemed too scary for television audiences and given an 18-certificate so is not for youngsters. If this doesn’t break your heart and encourage you to take action, nothing will. The video is here
The Shark Alliance: A global, not-for-profit coalition of non-governmental organizations dedicated to restoring and conserving shark populations by improving shark conservation policies. They have a wealth of information online about sharks, particularly in European waters and are campaigning for the closure of legal loopholes in order to end shark finning in Europe. when you think that Spain and Portugal are two of the biggest shark fishery nations in the EU, you can understand that the campaign could have major impacts.
The Shark Trust: A UK-based charity set up to advance shark conservation through science, education and action. They have a number of campaigns you can sign up to and take part in, including efforts to end shark finning, protect European sharks and stop the use of shark cartilage in health food supplements. You can also join their organisation from £15 a year, adopt-a-shark and buy educational toys.
Red Sea Sharks: Scores of Aquasport divers have joined us on our summer liveaboards on Blue O Two boats. One of their most popular guides, Chris Gooda, has set up his own charity carrying out research and education to protect sharks in the Red Sea. The charity has photo identification library and database of sharks spotted in the region, a great resource when planning trips to the region. For a small donation starting at £5 a month you can adopt a shark.
The Shark and Coral Conservation organisation has some interesting facts about the direct link between the deterioration in the world’s coral reef systems and the depletion in the number of sharks. It concludes that if we kill sharks, pretty soon the coral reefs won’t be there for us to go diving on either.
Cousteau: Founded in 1973 by Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the Society continues the unique explorations and observations of ecosystems throughout the world that have helped millions of people understand the fragility of life on our water world. The organisation is also fighting for shark protection in the Red Sea.
On a more general note, the Marine Conservation Society is a UK-based organisation that fights to protect the seas, shores and wildlife around the coast of the UK. The website has a wealth of information about its achievements supported by people like us. They also have a Sustainable Fish Guide for those who want to eat fish with a clear conscience. The Marine Stewardship Council is fighting for more sustainable fishing and has a list of fisheries that are doing it the right way.
If you find any more shark conservation charities, post a comment below and post the link of the Aquasport International Facebook page.