The Blog Aquatic » Jaws http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Shark Attack Survivors Fight to Save Sharks http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/15/shark-attack-survivors-fight-to-save-sharks/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/15/shark-attack-survivors-fight-to-save-sharks/#comments Wed, 15 Aug 2012 21:10:42 +0000 Sarah van Schagen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2317 tiger shark

Copyright Matthew D. Potenski 2010

Eight years ago, Debbie Salamone was attacked by a shark in the shallow waters of Florida’s Cape Canaveral National Seashore. The shark severed her Achilles tendon and led her to question her two-decade career as an environmental reporter.

After surgery and months of recovery, she came to realize that if she loved the ocean, she had to love everything in it – even sharks.

Sharks play an important role in the ocean ecosystem, Salamone explains. Removing these top predators – whether through overfishing or harmful practices like shark-finning – can have dire consequences that ripple throughout the ecosystem.

“I realized my unique position: Who could better speak up for sharks than myself and people like me?” she says.

Passionate defenders

After joining Pew Environment Group as a shark conservation advocate, Salamone reached out to shark attack survivors all over the world. She gathered a motley crew of willing advocates that include a World Cup soccer player from South Africa, a Wall Street businessman and a surfer from Hawaii.

Some are missing arms, others are missing legs – and one is missing an arm and a leg. But all of them are fiercely devoted to the cause: saving the animals that changed their lives forever.

“It gave us this incredible platform,” Salamone says. “If we can see the value in saving sharks, then surely everyone else can.”

The survivors are using that platform to urge world leaders to develop conservation plans, set shark fishing limits, enact trade protections and create shark sanctuaries.

The fact that people will listen to their message is critical, Salamone says, because most people don’t even know that sharks are in trouble.

“[Fear] is the biggest challenge we face,” she says. “Because people are so afraid, sharks are not the first animals people think of wanting to save. They think that sharks can take care of themselves, but they’re a lot more vulnerable than they look.”

Shark Fight

Salamone is hoping that “Shark Fight,” a TV special about the survivors airing during Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” will help educate people about the plight of sharks.

“This is the perfect show in terms of blending the drama of Shark Week with conservation,” Salamone says. “You’re getting the drama that’s interesting enough to keep people really intrigued so that when those conservation messages come out, they’re being heard.”

For Salamone and her fellow shark attack survivors, it’s an opportunity to turn a traumatic experience into something worthwhile.

“We can leave a legacy, and it’s not a legacy of fear – it’s a legacy of conservation.”

Shark Fight premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET on the Discovery Channel.

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Shark Bites: How Dangerous Are They? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/14/shark-bites-how-dangerous-are-they/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/14/shark-bites-how-dangerous-are-they/#comments Tue, 14 Aug 2012 21:13:43 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2290

Click the image for a high-res version.

The height of the summer beach season means many things: vacations, sleeping in, getting a tan; but for some ocean-goers, one fear can wind up taking over… Sharks.

Over the years sharks have been sensationalized as cold-blooded man-eaters. Peter Benchley’s “Jaws” certainly did a number on humanity when Spielberg brought this terrifying, Megalodon-Great White hybrid to life in the 1975 film adaptation. Since then, sharks have continued to sing a bittersweet symphony in our lives. We are terrified of these animals, yet completely fascinated by their behavior, size, and power.

While sharks maintain their status at the top of the food chain as the oceans’ greatest predator, humans are not on their preferred menu. There are many objects and activities that we encounter much more regularly that are more likely to kill us than the bite of a shark, outlined in our latest graphic above.

For more information about these statistics visit the International Shark Attack File, or Buzzfeed for a leaner version.

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