Sharks are a hot topic and for good reason!
Alex, Founder & Director of Shark Aid UK has graciously taken the time to answer some questions about why he created Shark Aid UK and shares his thoughts about our oceans.
Share your thoughts about the fragility of the oceans and how you hope to make a difference.
Under the sea is a complex environment. Made up of reefs, coasts, continental shelves, open oceans. They are all fragile ecosystems.
Sharks are apex predators, at the top of the food chain. Without them controlling, the ocean would change. Sharks are important for the balance and health of the oceans.
Healthy oceans means healthy marine life and healthy planet! We need to take care of it!
What advice do you have to others who are challenged in their plight to save our oceans.
Your passion and enthusiasm for your cause will be vital to your campaign. Show people the importance of current situations, and how important it is to you.
Effectively, by saving the oceans we save ourselves, so letting people know this would be key to gaining more support.
Where do you live and with whom?
Shark Aid UK is based in Surrey and Kent, England.
What is your job and with which organisation?
I am the Founder & Director of Shark Aid UK
When you were a little kid, what job did you dream of having?
I dreamt of either being a fireman or a shark!
How did you get involved in marine conservation?
I have always loved the sea and everything that is in it. After visiting South Africa and diving with great white sharks, I could not longer just be a fan. I had to do something to help!
So I came back to the UK and started a petition and the Shark Aid UK Facebook page and got to work!
Why are you so dedicated when there seems to be so many obstacles?
Everyone should stand up for what the believe in. I am doing just that. They are only obstacles in the way of the goal, obstacles can be overcome.
If no one was dedicated to conservation and protection of sharks and all life for that matter. There probably wouldn’t be many animals left!
What really annoys you regarding marine conservation?
The neglect, misperception and deceiving media reputation of sharks and the state of the oceans. News channels, documentaries and websites that misinforming people rather than teaching important matters and true facts. The furthering of the public’s fears and misunderstanding of sharks… for the sake of profit and entertainment.
Have you ever been criticized or harassed because of your strong beliefs?
Yes. Not everyone will agree with your cause. Some people may feel as strongly against your cause as you feel for it. Every one is entitled to their own opinion. In this case, many people (because of Jaws) still see sharks as monsters. It’s hard to change that and people do come against us for protecting a “blood thirsty human eater”. Which they are not.
I’ve also been accused of being funded by an American Oil company! Shark Aid UK is completely independent and 100% self-funded.
What’s the most difficult aspect of your job?
When trying to get restaurants or companies to stop selling shark fin products. It is a challenge to keep cool, even when they usually get defensive and to show them the facts and statistics around the finning industry can prove difficult as they usually don’t want to hear.
And the best?
Seeing sharks in their natural and wild habitats. Learning more and more about them each day.
Have you ever felt discouraged or felt like giving up?
What is the one thing a person can do that you think can make a difference?
Action. Activity is the single most important thing. If people and organisations keep active, signing petitions, raising awareness and continuing their support for sharks this will eventually make a difference.
What or who inspires you to continue your work?
I started Shark Aid UK after diving with great whites with the amazing Mike Rutzen “Sharkman” and his company Shark Diving Unlimited.
So the initial inspiration was through them, and now the sharks inspire me to continue.
If the world ends this year, as it’s supposed to, what do you hope you’ll have achieved, both personally and professionally by the end of 2012?
I hope for the website to be up and running, for all our events and campaigns to be successful and create a lot more awareness and for Shark Aid UK to continue growing. To enable us to further our help and contribution to protect sharks in the UK, EU and worldwide.
If you were given the chance to spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why? What would you do together?
Peter Benchley, the writer of Jaws. With hindsight, he regretted giving birth to the ‘monster’ that sharks are believed to be. As soon as Jaws came to the cinemas in the 70’s fishermen and hunters went out hunting sharks. Meeting Peter and re-writing Jaws would show people that it’s the humans that are the killers… Not the sharks.
How can people contact you or follow what you are up to?
The Shark Aid UK social media sites are the place to go for the latest updates and news in the world of sharks. Our website is the HQ of Shark Aid UK with all our contact information and about us. Frequently using these sites will keep you up to date and constantly connected with Shark Aid UK.