Before you start to digest this blog, please note that I am not a hippie nor an Eco Warrior, just someone who has had his eyes opened by education, something that seems to be missing more and more often nowadays (God that makes me sound like my dad!!)
Having always been a bit of an animal lover, I wasn’t surprised to find my interest in the aquatic wildlife taking a sharp increase over the last few years since becoming a full time Dive Pro. Some of the strange little facts, such as finding out that Nudibrancs are all hermaphrodites and literally play cross-swords to find out who is going to be the male & the female during reproduction; or the fact that Whale sharks do indeed eat small fish and not just Plankton.
The list is endless but with Papua New Guinea looming in 2017 I am eagerly searching for the next amazing fact & the species that have yet to be found in the coastal waters of PNG.
A few nights ago I attended another (I’ve been to a few) Shark Guardian presentation at Monkey Dive Hostel who really know how to pass on education without even saying a word. Their Hostel is a plethora of information in a cool and funky way, I’d stay here for sure! Check it out.
Monkey Dive Hostel use walls to pass on the info, even taking a pee isn’t that boring anymore, I never knew the size of a Whales brain in relation to my own until my bladder was fit to burst – that’s where the beer came into play.
Who Are Shark Guardian?
Shark Guardian was founded by a lovely couple, Brendan & Liz 3 years ago.
Both are Instructors in the dive industry that have an overwhelming passion for passing on the vital information that is required to sustain the apex predators of our global waters. Liz ditched her job as a physiotherapist to chase her passion for diving and Brendan, well Brendan is simply a diving junkie with a gazillion dives (particularly with sharks) under his belt, a wealth of experience and hails from South Africa. With a dream to teach the world some much needed balance and reality regarding sharks, they are now realizing it together. You can find out much more about these two on their website here: Meet the team
Why do we need another foundation, volunteer group, funded research?
The answer to that is very simple; Without education and prevention the slaughter of the apex predator will continue until their are non left.
That’s good though right, I mean, everyone wants to swim without Jaws biting them?
The same old question that gets answered literally in every first meeting with newcomers to diving “But what about sharks eating me?“
“You have more chance of being struck by a falling coconut or bitten by a rabid dog in Greenwich Park than being attacked by a shark!”
Thanks to the movie Jaws and various other Hollywood hits, sharks get a bad rep. For sure people get bitten, but its like a non-marmite lover trying to steal my toast in a morning; once that initial bite is in then the taste buds instantaneously tells the brain ‘get rid of that foal tasting shit now!!’
Sorry to bruise your ego folks, you’re not as tasty as you think you are. It’s just a case of mistaken identity; those that do get bitten are generally in the wrong place at the wrong time. Shark Baiting and diving in cages – clearly at some point something is going to go wrong with this scenario. Feeding sharks whilst scuba diving – DUH! – surfing in areas known to have a high population of sharks, again – DUH!
Many people fail to understand that we are just visitors to their world, and quite frankly, you deserve a little nibble if you are going to push the boundaries.
Still not convinced on your point Matt!
OK, lets say we cull all the sharks on the planet, the Chinese market is super happy for their supply of soup ingredients, the surfers are happy as they no longer look like a seal to a couple of tons of teeth and all the little fishies can live happily ever after.
Unfortunately this is not the case, the reason sharks have pre-dated the Dinosaur is because of their ability to adapt to their environments. They also have FULL, YES FULL control over the species of fish and various aquatic wildlife beneath them in the food chain. They are the daddy’s of said chain, if we remove them then the rank below get to explode their populous indefinitely. Again, this may be good for fish stocks in Tesco’s or Sainsburys but the knock on effect is complete extinction of all aquatic life.
Think about it – The lovely Seal gets to live, it reproduces, nothing kills it, it over populates & eats all of its natural resources. Those fish that are now history cannot eat the smaller fish they use to chow down on, they in turn over populate, they eat the smaller fish. Eventually it all leads to Rainbow Fish being massacred; in turn the Rainbow Fish no longer eat and control the Algae build up over corals therefore the corals starve. Coral Reefs are the keystone to all living beings in our oceans. They are also they keystone to life on Earth, if they disappear then so do we. If you would like to go into more detail about the Reefs just click here: Coral Reefs
So what is the aim?
The aim is to educate, prevent & protect our Apex Predators. At present their are over 500 species of Shark known to man, but their demise and rapidly reducing figures is also our fault; the ever increasing demand to have tuna in a tin, or that Sunday afternoon barby to throw another Shrimp on is calling for the resources in greater numbers & as such an increase in fishing on a commercial scale.
We’ve all seen the news and feeds that show Sharks caught in trawler nets or those imbeciles catching, cutting the fins off and tossing back to the depths just for the Chinese market.
“SO WHAT IT’S JUST ANOTHER SHARK!“
If you have read this far and still think this then I strongly suggest that you acquire some much needed education.
Brendan, Liz and the ever growing support for Shark Guardian are doing exactly that, educating people from all walks of life, young and old and bringing awareness to a subject that has been glazed over for too many years.
Please show your support for what I consider one of the best causes known to man. You can purchase cool clothing, ask your dive center to become involved, volunteer to help or simply donate a few quid rather than sinking the tenth pint on a Friday night.
I am looking forward to doing my bit once on location in Papua New Guinea as Tufi Dive Resort are already educating the local community on Shark conservation and sustainable fishing. We are to become the first Shark Guardians of PNG and with the information we collect on the Shark inhabiting the local waters we can provide much needed information to the global data requirements.
Follow my blog for regular updates in 2017 on the Sharks and Rays of Papua New Guinea.
Useful links that explain what happens with the data collected by Shark Guardian: