Our very first collaborative piece comes from one of our TFUI officers, Esther Jacobs Overbeeke. Esther provides some details from a recent breach trip in Mossel Bay, South Africa, an educational trip in which she and her team instigated breaching behavior in juvenile Great White, as well as information about her Keep Fin Alive campaign.
September 2015, Mossel Bay, South Africa
It’s been an incredible month of shark activity in Mossel Bay. I captured a photo of an amazing juvenile Great White Shark on an early morning breach trip. Our Mossel Bay sharks are mostly juveniles and we see a lot of breaching activity throughout the year. Sometimes they are breaching for something specific such as a seal or decoy, like the one used for our breach trip, but we also witness random breaches where there isn’t any sign of a target. White Shark Africa’s Shark Program offer these educational breaching trips using decoy seals to give people a chance to better understand and appreciate these sharks and their fascinating behaviours. Activities such as this make sharks worth more alive than dead, as proven by recent research, and shark tourism is vital for conservation.
I also dove at a little reef here called Dolla Sa, home to pyjama sharks, leopard catsharks, puffadder shysharks and an array of fish and eels. Here’s a little video of these incredible sharks (just forgive the music… I used a GoPro template and I’m not convinced it’s very ‘sharky’!):
I’m fortunate enough to get to experience the Great White Shark viewing and cage diving trips frequently. I’ve seen some amazing activity, but this month I was lucky to not only witness an attempted predation, but to then be visited by the escapee seal when he used our boat as refuge. He even tried to swim into the cage at one point but couldn’t get between the bars. I also made a wee video about the seal’s escapade:
As well as shark adventures, I volunteer my time with the shark program while also running a campaign called Keep Fin Alive. The campaign features Fin, a handpuppet shark on a mission to be photographed with as many people as possible holding a sign that says “I hugged a shark and I liked it… Keep Fin Alive”. He’s already been photographed with well-known actors, singers, chefs, photographers and scientists. The ultimate goal of the campaign is to take a light-hearted approach to help change the common misconception of sharks and drive more attention to the problems of shark overfishing, finning, shark fishing tournaments, bycatch and longlining. With renowned personalities behind the campaign, we will gain more followers to help spread awareness of the issues facing sharks by gaining momentum through the power of social media.
Sharks play a vital role in keeping the oceans healthy and are essential to an ecosystem that produces more oxygen than all the rainforests combined, provides a third of the world with food, removes half of the atmosphere’s greenhouse gases, and controls our planet’s temperature and weather. Sharks and the oceans desperately need our help.
Getting involved is easy, Just visit our campaign pages (Facebook, Twitter), like and share…
Original content has been edited for style and clarity.
Esther works primarily with Great White Sharks, and runs a campaign, Keep Fin Alive, dedicated to educating people on the importance of sharks, and spreading awareness of the issues currently facing many shark species.
TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
SEE MELISSA'S TEDx TALK HERE:
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