These apex predators are essential to our ecosystem but they’re being eradicated by humans, and might not be around in our grandchildren lifetime. This international couple founded Shark Guardian to help bring awareness and understanding of the situation to try to make our world a little better.
Sharks have been on this planet for the past 400 millions years, thats a long time, that makes them one of the most prolific and adaptive species on planet earth. They have survived the past 5 mass extinctions, you remember the big one which wiped out the dinosaurs right? Sharks survived. Pretty impressive right? Then why are we (humans) doing such a good job pushing this animal to the brink of extinction? Primarily money. The shark finning industry carries an estimated value of or roughly $1 billion USD, making it a difficult industry to go away. The primary markets for shark fins are Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok. In fact in Hong Kong an estimated 85% of adults have eaten shark fin soup as some point or another.
Why are we doing this?
As just stated Money, Shark fin is one of the most valuable products harvested form the ocean, carrying a market value of approximately $400-$600USD/Kilogram. It’s extremely difficult to convince poor fisherman to stop doing something which is earning them a salary and putting money on the table for their families especially if every time they come back to port their entire cargo is bought up in an instant.
How is this done?
This is one of the wort parts to the trade. Small to medium sized fishing vessels are outfitted with longlines which are basically massive thick fishing lines with hooks attached at various intervals on them. These longlines have been seen to be up to 60 miles long at times, but regular links are more commonly around 20-30 miles long….. Think about that a 20 mile long fishing line. Sharks then bite these hooks and are then dragged on board theses ships where if they are still alive at that point are held down as their fins are all cut off and kept in the ships cargo hold. The de-finned still alive sharks are often then just thrown overboard at this point as the rest of their body does not carry much of a market value. One thing worth knowing is that sharks need oxygen just like humans do in order to live. They get this oxygen by their gills filtering it out of the water around them, but in order for this process to happen these sharks need to swim in order for water to move through their gills. Once they’re fins are removed they simple cannot swim and therefore usually sink to the bottom of the ocean and slowly die of suffocation. A pretty cruel way to go all so humans can get a bowl of soup?
What are we doing about this?
This is where Brendon and Liz come in. Brandon had begun giving talks in 2008 about the real threat humans play to sharks survival as a species on our planet and how their disappearance would have devastating effects on our planets ecosystem. When the couple met on Koh Lanta in 2007 Liz decided to join Brandon in his mission. Through many events, talks and educational seminars the couple were able to officially register Shark Guardian as a charity based in the UK back in 2013. Their work was essential but it was not how you might think it would be done, their was was more focused around education, about helping empower the next generation with the mindset and knowledge to change the planet. If they can change the mentality of next years adults then maybe there is a chance they can stop the demand and therefore stop the industry in its tracks.
Forming an registered charity in 2013 together Brendon and Liz made their way into a new life and began their quest to change the world. Funding primarily coming from donors or purchases of apparel bearing the Shark Guardian logo they continue to make headway inspiring and educating todays tough about the realities of sharks.
Did you know that on average only 5 people have died annually for the past 30 years from shark attacks. This does not compare to the 70+ million sharks which are killed annually.
Why do we have this deep seeded fear of their seemingly harmless creatures? Well there are many factors to this way of thinking, mainly media hype though. When the iconic film JAWS was released in 1975 this began the world wide general public’s shift in their opinion of sharks, from another creature of the sea to be regarded with an eye of caution, to a vicious man-eating vengeful beast of the sea who would stop at nothing to kill humans who got into the water with them. This is utter nonsense and nothing else has single handily has done more to slander the reputation of sharks than this single movie.
How do we stop this?
Education. Brendon and Liz host events in schools throughout Asia and Europe educating the youth about sharks, how dangerous they are and why they are essential to our oceans and works ecosystem. Through these seminars, classes and events they are working to change the public opinion towards these essential and wonderfully misunderstood creates of our sea.
What can you do?
Speak out! When you see a menu serving shark fin soup, or a market selling shark products don’t shop or buy from these establishments.
Swim in sharks! Thats right, nothing does more to ease the public opinion of sharks than to see other people swimming with these mystically dangerous creatures, and then thinking to themselves “hummm, maybe they’re really not that dangerous”.
Talk to people! When people say silly things like sharks are dangerous and will eat you, talk with them about this and try to convince them otherwise. Here are some statistics of other things on our planet which kills more people than sharks annually:
- Obesity – 30,000 people die annually of organ failure due to obesity
- Lightning – 10,000 people die annually from being struck by lightening or accidents caused by lightening strikes
- Texting – 6,000 people die annually while texting and not watching what they’re doing (driving, walking, etc)
- Hippos – 2,900 people die annually from hippo related incidents
- Airplanes – 1,200 people die annually form plane crashes.
- Autoerotic Asphyxiation – 600 people die while accidentally taking that sex act a little too far…
- Falling out of Bed – 450 people die annually from falling out of bed
- Bathtubs – responsible for 340 deaths annually
- Deer – 130 people die annually from deer related incidents
- Icicles – 100 people die annually from falling icicles
- Hot Dogs – 70 children die annually from choking on hot dogs
- Tornados – 60 people die annually from tornados
- Jellyfish – 40 people die annually from jellyfish stings
- Dogs – 30 people die from dog attacks in the United States alone
- Vending Machines – 13 people die annually from machines malfunctioning and/or falling over on top of people
- Roller Coasters – 6 people die on roller coaster crashes or related incidents
- Sharks – 5 people die annually from shark attacks
Brendon and Liz are amazing people dedicating their lives to the betterment of our planet through education. If you are interested in donating, getting involved or just learning more about this courageous couple please visit their website: