On Saturday November 8th I had the privilege to talk at the Ocean Optics Shark Day, held at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London.
The day brought together people with a common interest in sharks to discuss both their passion for the humbling experience of encountering these leviathans first hand, but also the importance of preserving sustainable populations for the stability of marine ecosystems and ourselves.
Amos Nachoum, the keynote speaker, shared his stunning images of white sharks and experiences with them, whilst photo-journalist Michael Aw discussed the power of photography as a tool to help rethink the shark. Other speakers included Grant Bates of the Shark Trust, who provided an overview of shark biology, an understanding of which is essential for employing effective management strategies.
My talk was a personal slant on current research into shark behavioural ecology. Here I discussed my work volunteering at the Bimini Biological Field Station in the Bahamas, before providing an overview of projects run by the Save Our Seas Foundation, such as the Rethink the Shark campaign, studying giant mantas in Mozambique and tracking basking sharks off the UK.
The main bulk of the talk, however, focused on our Red Sea silky shark project, for which I am part of the research team, along with the SOSF expedition to Aldabra in the Seychelles back in May. With the silky project we’re tracking them to find out where they are, when and why as part of an initiative to establish a marine protected area in the region. Our expedition to Aldabra found us in one of the Earth’s most remote locations, a raised coral atoll home to thousands of giant tortoises, breeding turtles and, of course, sharks. We were documenting the natural beauty and diversity of the atoll, with a particular focus on resident shark species, to provide high definition footage for a travelling exhibition that raises awareness of this World Heritage site and inspires awe of the ocean realm.
We also had a stand at the event to help provide further information on the Foundation and the diverse range of innovative projects it supports, along with samples of our various publications. Speaking with many of the attendees between talks it was enormously encouraging to see the tremendous enthusiasm people had for sharks and the marine environment in general, as well as the Foundation itself.
Many thanks to Ocean Optics and all those involved!