First and foremost, we hope everyone is safe and healthy and if not, you are receiving all the support you need. We are also sending our heartfelt thanks to all those on the frontline of this pandemic and wish them all the very best.
We love the springtime here in Florida not only because the weather is almost perfect on most days but also because it is a very busy time for our outreach efforts. We had a totally full schedule of community events and education programs lined up from March throughout the summer. We put on hold the last bit of fieldwork tagging great hammerheads in the recreational fishery until the fall. We canceled two trips to the Bahamas and our attendance at scientific conferences in Virginia and Rotterdam, Netherlands.
It is easy to think of all the negative impacts of this and worry about what it means for our organization, our staff and volunteers, and the work we do. But we want to highlight the amazing things that have come out of this, so far. We are unbelievably grateful for the donations we have received in a time of such economic uncertainty for so many. Every little bit helps to keep us going! We rely on our attendance at events and presentations for a portion of our fundraising so without those opportunities, we are faced with a new challenge. We have put our “SharkHugger” t-shirts, tank tops (and long sleeves coming soon) up on our website.
We are slightly obsessed with designing fun, custom products with Sticker Mule. Throughout all of this, their production of quality stickers and services (they helped us with our logo) never faltered. We have been sending out the stickers with notes of thanks to anyone who has been supporting us and we know they bring a smile to any shark lovers' face 😊 and they are super durable for those of us who are out in the elements! Check out their cool waterproof stickers!
We are grateful for the volunteers who are also dealing with so much in their own lives but still show up to help with the backlog of work we still need to do and to host virtual Shark Smart chats and just being a shoulder to lean on.
The response of so many in the science and conservation community to immediately figure out ways to share their content online has been incredible. We were overwhelmed at first and with the help and friendship of the great people at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium and the Reef Institute, we did a crash course in live, online outreach and it was awesome! Each day we get to see so many happy faces that want to know more about sharks and it has been so much fun. Hannah’s Facebook Live with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy has been viewed by more than 7.5k times with more than 290 comments!
We have had interviews with student project groups, interviewed the amazing Cristina Zenato, learned all about the life spans of lemon sharks, and presented our education programs to a big audience at the Florida Marine Science Educators Association. Check out our videos on our YouTube Channel and make sure to subscribe to follow our work as outreach opportunities expand and our new community project with Fin Alliance kicks off on World Oceans Day (June 8th!). We are certainly looking forward to being able to move forward carefully with our programs and we hope to see you all soon!