This cat-on-a-roomba and a series of other ‘finny’ memes may have become the face of Shark Week this year, but do you know what it’s really all about? Kicking off in 1987 as a series of shark-themed docos on the Discovery Channel, Shark Week celebrations today spill out into conservation efforts far and wide, with organisations around the world utilising the occasion as a time to draw attention to their plight. Peppermint was lucky enough to go swimming with sharks as part of Contiki’s eco tour of the Galapagos and Ecuador recently, and having faced majestic schools of sharks face-to-face, our hearts hurt even more when we read that around 14,000 of them are killed every hour. “With sharks around the world under severe pressure from finning, fishing and by-catch, people are recognising that one week a year just won’t cut it,” says Jennifer Loder of Reef Check Australia.
“Sharks have an undeniable role to play in helping keep our ocean ecosystems in balance,” Jennifer continues. “Part of the effort to conserve sharks is increasing public knowledge about shark populations” – and that’s something we can all get involved in. There are a number of hands-on citizen science programs in Australia, including Grey Nurse Shark Watch which tracks the critically endangered species, and REEFSearch, a community-led observation program for snorkellers, reef walkers and scuba divers. Even if you aren’t keen to dive in, you can help protect sharks with your choices: make an effort to select sustainable seafood, or shop ZKIN‘s limited edition accessories supporting Shark Savers. While you’ll have to wait until Peppermint Issue 19 (out August 30th!) to read more about our shark-diving experience, you can keep yourself busy casting an eye over these incredible facts about our finned friends!