Project Leader

Laura Sams

Laura Sams

Who I am

Welcome to the Sisbro Studios profile! Sisbro Studios was founded in 2001 by the sister/brother creative team of Laura Sams and Robert Sams. We create science-based films, books, music, educational media and curricula that help people discover the natural world (and laugh along the way).

Laura has a Master’s degree in natural resources education with Bachelor’s degrees in zoology and parks/recreation. Robert has two Bachelor’s degrees, one in zoology and one in communications. This means he can talk to animals. Whether they understand him is another question.

We grew up in a family connected to nature. As part of a military family we moved frequently, but summer always took us back to the same place – our grandparents’ cottage on a wooded lake in northern Michigan, USA. Somewhere between the swimming, fishing, sailing, hiking and watching deer on the evening drives along country roads, we fell in love with wild places and wild things. That led us to a passion for protecting wild things.

Where I work

What is the biggest shark in the ocean and what do its teeth look like? This is a riddle we pose in our film The Shark Riddle, co-funded by the Save Our Seas Foundation. We travel the United States with a shark-themed show based on the film – and when we reveal the answer to the riddle, crowds often murmur an audible ‘Wow!’

So what is the answer? Keep reading our profile to find out. (Are we shamelessly teasing you to read our profile? Yes. We know reading an online profile is an investment in your time, so we will try to make it worth your while by including warm, fuzzy words like ‘excitement’ and ‘love’ and ‘shark-infested dreams’.)

From our base in Portland, Oregon, we visit thousands of people each year at schools, museums and aquariums around the United States to perform live programmes that inspire people to care about their world. Since working in the conservation sphere, we have become increasingly sensitive to the effects that ‘doom-and-gloom’ stories have on young people – and adults too.

While visiting a school, Laura asked a nine-year-old boy what he liked about the ocean. He said, ‘The dolphins are being killed and the corals are dying. We need to save them.’ She paused and said, ‘That is what is wrong with the ocean. Now what do you like?’ He looked at her with a furrowed brow, then suddenly his face lit up with a smile. ‘I think octopuses are really cool because they can fit their bodies into a tiny soda bottle.’ Yes! That is the excitement we want to generate and use to help create the next generation of environmental stewards.

We believe that we do a great injustice to the next generation when we make them think about all the things that are ‘wrong’ with the world before they get to experience what is ‘right’. The conservation world is full of doom-and-gloom messages, which can quickly get overwhelming for anyone. Young people especially can grow up disengaged emotionally because the problems seem too great to tackle. It is important to first help people fall in love with the ocean before we ask them to save it. People need to find that positive emotional connection with the ocean that will lay the foundation for the rest of their lives. Our goal is to help them find it through beautiful, clever, funny and family-friendly stories.

What I do

The Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) has helped us reach this goal by co-funding our movies The Riddle in a Bottle and The Shark Riddle, and an educational outreach tour called Shark Days that includes a custom-made, life-sized, seven-metre-long inflatable basking shark. Our Shark Day events are simply a way to celebrate sharks – their importance, their diversity, their beauty – in a non-preachy way. Each event is an interactive programme, which engages families in shark-themed games and music from the movie.

What if sea lions could sing a tribute to their nemesis the great white shark? Robert sings ‘The Great White Shark Song’, which thanks the predators for being part of the ocean’s food chain. How do you convince most people that sharks are not the monsters of our nightmares? Laura sings ‘The Shark Lullaby’, a hilarious tribute to sharks: ‘I would love you even if your eyes stuck out from your head, like a hammerhead … sweet, shark-infested dreams.’

Sharks are a sexy topic – people are fascinated by them. But beyond knowing a list of the top five most dangerous sharks, most people have no idea that there are sharks that glow in the dark, that walk on their fins, that are so small they could fit in your hand! Plus, there are more than 500 species of sharks, and counting…

So what is the biggest shark, and what do its teeth look like? The whale shark can grow to 15 metres long, but its teeth are very, very tiny (as you see in The Shark Riddle, about the size of a grain of rice). The biggest fish in the ocean is a filter-feeder that has some of the smallest teeth! That wonderful fact is a surprise to most people, and it encapsulates why the ocean is awesome – it is full of wonderful surprises.

My project

Project See project and more news