Oceans have been a part of my childhood exploring dreams for as long as I can remember. Truth is, the seas and its creatures that I fantasized about back then, are permanently being affected by human actions. The first time you jump in the water with a great white shark, your fears melt into fascination and respect. With the experience, the feeling of observing a wild shark in their environment, triggers in your soul a sensation of respect, that in many cases, never goes away.
In my travels around the world I have encountered great hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks, and stores full of dry shark fins. Yet, I never had the chance to meet Shark Stanley. But now you can, even from home.
Stanley is traveling around the world with his friends, to support shark and manta ray protections at the upcoming Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in March 2013 in Bangkok.
You may wonder, has Kike gone crazy? I must say, not yet. This idea is part of a recently launched grassroots campaign aimed at shark conservation. A collaboration between two graduate students at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the Pew Environment Group, Shark Savers, and Shark Defenders.
The Shark Stanley global petition stems from the widely shared opinion of concerned citizens around the world, that the overfishing of shark and manta ray species is completely unacceptable. Over a month ago, Shark Stanley was beautifully painted into being as the charismatic hammerhead shark with the calling to educate and inspire world citizens to take a stand for shark conservation. This petition calls for more stringent conservation regulations for shark and manta ray species that will be enforced through the mechanism of an international treaty.
This March, in Bangkok, Thailand, representatives of 177 countries, will be voting either for or against more tightened regulations of the hammerhead, porbeagle and oceanic whitetip sharks, and the manta ray, at the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) meeting. The petition asks individuals to pose with Shark Stanley in photographs as an alternative to offering written signatures. As a lead-up to this critical meeting, the Shark Stanley team, which is a network of individuals, and over forty organizations, will be raising awareness, and sending out mosaic collages of the photo petitions to all of the CITES delegates.
One of the campaign’s goals is to educate youth around the world about the species that govern marine ecosystems through the complex web of trophic cascades, also to inspire, and mobilize them to engage in an endeavor to preserve these rich ecosystems. At the same time, the campaign seeks the YES vote that is needed to enforce the necessary conservation regulations. In order to do so, the campaign is looking for 5,000 photos, with representation from all 177 voting countries. Currently, the campaign has been able to collect 1,500 photos from 85 countries.