Dedicated organizations, from worldwide charities to smaller community-based initiatives, offer opportunities to become involved in marine conservation. Here are our picks for five top shark charities that are working to protect the ocean’s apex predators.
Friends for Sharks
Two great white shark wildlife dive guides [full disclosure: the author is one of the co-founders] began Friends for Sharks after a serious back injury unexpectedly ended one of their marine conservation careers. Looking for a new way to channel their passion and skills for positive change, they created this self-funded initiative. Their mission is to increase worldwide awareness of the threats to sharks while educating people of all ages and from all social backgrounds. They hope to inspire others to “be the change they wish to see in the world.”
They completed the World Tour for Sharks in 2015, including 87 shark-conservation events in eight countries, presented to more than 7,000 people. To support Friends for Sharks, you can book a talk, a lecture series or virtual classroom event within your own community or at local marine-conservation projects. Find more information on their website.
The Shark Trust
Founded in the U.K. in 1997, The Shark Trust is a well-known charity dedicated shark, skate and ray conservation in the U.K. and internationally. Their vision is “a future where sharks, skates and rays thrive within a globally healthy marine ecosystem,” and they work closely with the U.K. government and international partners to achieve this. The Trust heavily influenced the ban on European shark finning in 2013. It’s also part of a global partnership that introduced the 10-year Global Shark and Ray Initiative in 2016 to drastically improve the conservation status of sharks. The Trust works closely with fishing industries, businesses, divers and the public to create change and educate communities. Support their work by becoming a member, adopting a white shark to fund research in the Farallon Islands, donating, fundraising or volunteering at their community events.
Fin Fighters, a U.K. shark-conservation organization, wants to end the sale and distribution of shark fins in the U.K. by 2023. They aim to create “a growing movement of ordinary people working together to make a difference.” They are currently running campaigns that include a Citizen Shark Science Project, which trains volunteers to conduct research work, as well as an “Ocean Optimism” series of documentaries and podcasts.
The “What’s Beneath the Batter” campaign aims to uncover the sale of vulnerable shark species in fish and chips, and their 2016 Sharkfest, the first festival of its kind in the U.K., was a great success. Fin Fighters work closely with volunteers and campaign ambassadors, both in the field and virtually via home-based roles. To get involved or attend Sharkfest in 2017, find more information on their website.
The Gills Club, with their motto “Smart About Sharks,” gives girls the opportunity to get involved in projects that make a difference in public perception of sharks. Members, aged 13 and younger, receive tools in monthly newsletters to help educate their communities about sharks. There are also hands-on learning experiences at monthly events in Massachusetts and Florida. The club aims to encourage young girls’ interest in science and math subjects, and works closely with educational institutions. The newsletter features the work of top female shark researchers from around the world, information about different shark species, and provides research updates.
The Gills Club is an education initiative of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC), and interested parties can make donations to the AWSC to support this education initiative. AWSC is non-profit organization that funds white-shark research, promotes public-safety initiatives, and educates the community about the importance of white sharks in our ecosystem. Learn more by visiting our website here. Find information about joining the Gills Club on their website.
Shark Spotters is a pioneering shark safety program in Cape Town, South Africa that focuses on solutions to shark-human conflicts. The program has received international attention for its unique approach to reducing negative interactions between sharks and people using non-lethal methods. Shark spotters improve beach safety by monitoring coastlines for nearby sharks. A flag system indicates current water visibility and shark-sighting data for water-users. Spotters also provide emergency assistance during shark incidents, contribute to shark research, educate the public about shark conservation, and provide employment for local people. Private donations and sponsors such as Save Our Seas Foundation fund the program. Those wishing to donate and support Shark Spotters can find further information on their website.