Oh no! Another shark group?!?! Well, sort of. We all know that the world (both online and real) seems flooded with groups and individuals that want to save sharks, most with the best intentions. However, it can be difficult to determine what some of these groups do, whether they are active, registered non-profits* that have accomplished anything, or at least are working on something of conservation value. We've thrown our fins in the ring but want to make it clear who are and what our philosophy is because that is what makes us stand out from the rest of the muddled masses.
Our founder, Hannah, worked on global shark issues for several years, helping to set up sanctuaries in Indonesia, supporting outreach in Singapore, commenting on policies in Australia. It was never dull with bringing so many diverse groups together, and handling the logistics of working globally from home. She learned invaluable lessons about the global shark conservation picture, the processes, policies and players. At some point, it occurred to her that she knew more about the shark fin trade in Hong Kong than what was going on in her own backyard in Florida and the U.S. The commercial fishing season’s opening date change threatened a highly publicized aggregation of lemon sharks, the diving community is still not considered a stakeholder in marine resources, land-based shark fishing is unmonitored and growing in popularity, provisioning dives are cropping up, habitats are being altered and degraded…what does all of this mean for the sharks off the east coast of Florida?
Luckily, she has incredibly talented friends and colleagues that were willing to come together to work on answering the important questions.
The Bigger Picture
Our little team is uniquely qualified to conduct applicable research, create programs, and lead meaningful outreach. We aim to take a holistic and committed approach to our mission (we all know these things take time) to undertake research and outreach with the goal of positive policy changes. We are scientists, divers, photographers, business, conservation and education professionals with a common vision:
Healthy marine ecosystems conserved by an engaged, scientifically literate community.
Our experience is that effective conservation requires research AND outreach. We have witnessed strong science supporting sustainable proposals and the public’s voice successfully securing better policies. The general public is not expected to know or understand the complexities of science and conservation so we consider it one of our jobs to provide correct information to support science literacy to foster a better understanding and appreciation of our natural world. It is not all about the sharks (crazy, we know!). Although the organization focuses primarily on elasmobranch fishes, we know they are only one piece of the marine ecosystem puzzle. We will always consider the broader context of any task we undertake.
We're keeping a fin on the pulse of global shark research and conservation through our network of collaborators, friends, colleagues, and the South African Shark Conservancy, our sister organization with whom we share resources, ideas and support. For now, our little group is focused on doing what we can, where we can here in the sunshine state.
So, we'll do what we can to NOT be “just another shark group”…
*Full disclosure, we are still in the process of filing for 501 (c) 3 status