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10 ways to help sharks

Green Lifestyle

Be an apex greenie with these different ways that you can help protect sharks.

10 ways you can help protect our sharks

Over 2,000 people turned up to the No Shark Cull rally at Manly Beach in February this year. Nationally, the attendance was around 10,000 people. Since shark netting was introduced, the number of shark bites has remained the same, and the by-catch of dolphins, whales, dugongs, rays, and turtles has increased dramatically.

Credit: Silke Stuckenbrock

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If there was ever an animal in need of a public relations expert, it would be the shark.

They've had it pretty rough, especially so after the thriller film Jaws was released in 1975.

Mainstream Australian media has been keen to sell newspapers through shock tactics portraying sharks as hungry man-eaters, when this is far from the truth. Globally, humans kill 100 million sharks every year.

Sharks have been negatively affected by a devastating combination of their naturally-slow breeding cycles, and the killing of 90 per cent of their population for fear of human attack. Many species are now vulnerable or endangered.

Here are just some of the many ways you can get involved in shark conservation, from sitting back with a glass of wine, to getting brave and adventurous in the water with them.

#1. Show your love of sharks
Get a ‘Keep Calm and Love Sharks’ t-shirt and the visually-stunning Sharkwater DVD from the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), a not-for-profit group providing a voice for Australia’s vulnerable ocean wildlife. By purchasing the AMCS Shark Pack you'll be showing your support for nature’s most misunderstood creature, and contributing to a cause that creates real societal change through campaigning and lobbying on the big issues concerning our seas.
Click here to wear your heart on your sleeve.

#2. Attend a protest rally
While protests aren't everybody's cuppa tea, a high attendance at them does send a clear message to decision makers. And if it's your first time to a rally, you'll soon realise that it's loads of fun to stand up for something that you believe in. On September 6 and 7 this year, No Shark Cull rallies to say ‘no’ to culling, nets and drumlines will be held across Australia. Join the protest against current shark control methods, and learn about more humane options – such as eco barriers and clever buoys. Sharnie Connell, organiser of the rally in Manly, Sydney, says: “I think overall sharks are undergoing a radical image makeover, and the old stereotype of Jaws is being changed. I am completely blown away by the level of public support for saving sharks. Simply turn up to one of the protests."
Find a rally near you, or start one here.

#3. Cage dive with a reputable company
Do more than just gawp at a shark from a cage when you embark on a Rodney Fox Shark Expedition. In their natural environment, get to know each of the local Great White sharks by their unique markings and personality on overnight tours from anywhere between two to eight nights on board a boat. Listen to talks about the area's wildlife, and get involved in recognising, sexing, and sizing sharks. All this work and funds from the tours go into the Fox Shark Research Foundation, a research platform which informs science-based conservation decisions and raises public awareness of sharks. Andrew Fox says that, “we strive for people to leave our trip with a much richer understanding of this species, and how special and important it is to conserve it… and this makes sharks more desirable for an enlightened public to want to protect them”. You can also apply to become a volunteer crew member to help with onboard duties and research.
Start planning your trip now.

#4. Get friendly with the biggest fish in the sea
If getting in the water with a mighty Great White shark is not your idea of fun, there's a majestic, calmer species that you could get to know. Eco Ocean is an organisation committed to saving the biggest fish in the sea, the Whale shark. The team are world-leaders in whale shark research programs, identity cataloguing, and data collection on movement and behaviour. So if you’re keen to spend a bit of time in Western Australia, there are regular volunteer positions where you can help out with the all-important admin, design, and IT work, and depending on your timing, you might get the opportunity to go swimming with these huge sharks to help identify them. If you've taken photos of Whale sharks yourself, you can also submit them into the database.
Get good eco-karma by signing-up here.

#5. Dive with a Grey Nurse
A Grey Nurse shark may not measure up to a Great White, but diving with one is an exhilarating experience nonetheless. The Shark Dive Xtreme experience at Manly Sea Life Sanctuary will allow you to get out of the cage, and up close and personal with these placid fish-eaters. You will also discover a plethora of fascinating shark facts, and learn about local shark conservation efforts. With just 500 Grey Nurse sharks thought to be left on Australia's east coast, these animals are now listed as critically endangered. Once you dive with them, you’ll quickly see that their fearsome appearance is just a façade, and that they deserve every bit of our efforts to help protect them and their habitat.
We dare you to click here and dive.

#6. Be luscious
Show your support this September for a week long campaign against shark culling by LUSH Australia. Pop into a store between 4 – 10 September to sign a petition to end shark culling, and meanwhile you can grab a Charity Pot Body Lotion ($32.50 for 240 g) or Sea Vegetable Soap ($6.95 for 100 g), where every penny that you pay for it will go directly to Sea Shepherd. Lola Figuero from LUSH says: “Did you know you’re more likely to be killed by a vending machine than a shark? Healthy oceans need sharks; they play an important role in our oceans keeping marine life in balance.”
Click here because you're sexy & we know it.

#7. If you eat fish, choose only sustainable seafood
With over three quarters of our global fish stocks either over-exploited, or fished to their absolute limits, it’s crucial to support the switch to more sustainable seafood if we want to continue to enjoy eating it. Over-fishing not only affects fish stocks, it also has an impact on other marine wildlife, and the healthy functioning of ecosystems. Sharks are often caught as unwanted fisheries bycatch, and being apex predators, the removal of just one individual disrupts the entire ecosystem. Even though it's cheap, be careful to avoid flake as it is just shark in disguise, and buying it helps to perpetuate the lucrative shark fin soup market (in Australia the entire shark must be landed, but there isn't a strong demand for their meat).
So there's no more excuses, get the mobile app. here.

#8. Report your sightings
If you're in South Australia (SA), you can contribute to some of the most extensive scientific data being gathered worldwide on sharks. Report any of your shark sightings on the Shark Watch website, where the data is used to help scientists learn more about shark's behaviour, and how they interact with ecosystems.
Seen a shark in SA? Report it now.

#9. Educate the little ones
One of the best and most rewarding ways to raise awareness is by educating the young. You might like to teach the children in your life through a charming kids' book called The Surf is my Turf. Based on the activities of an actual Great White in South Africa (unassumingly named Nicole), the book follows her daily adventures in rhyme, and helps to dispel some common myths about sharks, such as that humans are part of their diet. With a powerful conservation message for children, you can help them learn from a young age that these giants of the seas really are worth fighting to protect. Proceeds from the sale of the book, valued at $12.95, go towards Save Our Sharks for shark conservation and awareness.
Help create a better future here.

#10. Sit back with a glass of wine
No, really – a glass of Goodwill Wine can help you do your bit to help the conservation of sharks. Reef Check Australia encourages people to engage in citizen science projects and address environmental challenges to tackle the issues facing our reefs across the country. Reefs are the home of many species of shark, including Grey Nurse and Whale sharks. They’ve teamed up with Goodwill Wines who will donate up to $20 per case of wine sold. Turn up to your next dinner party with a bottle and you'll get an invite back again.
Bottoms up, we say!