It was 5 pm on a Friday, the train station in Bern, Switzerland, was crowded with people rushing home from work and I was standing there waiting for a seven-year-old boy called Adrián and Zaira, his mother. Zaira had contacted me and asked me to teach her son something about his biggest passion: sharks!
I hadn’t met them before, so trying to spot a young boy with his mother in the large, moving crowd of people was quite impossible. Luckily they spotted me before I saw them and we went straight to the University of Bern so that we could sit quietly and discuss all Adrián’s carefully prepared questions. For an hour, Adrián and I discussed a broad array of topics that ranged from the favourite habitats of sharks to their movements, reproduction, diet and feeding behaviour, and then shark finning and the global decline in sharks. While Adrián and I were focusing on sharks, his mother Zaira took notes in the well-prepared notebook he had brought along with him.
During our meeting Adrián also described to me how he had borrowed a large shark’s jaw from his dad’s colleague. The owner of this massive jaw didn’t know which shark species it came from but, according to Adrián’s proud mother, the boy took ‘a quick look at its teeth and he identified it, without any hesitation, as the jaw of a tiger shark’.
This meeting with Adrián and Zaira was such an enriching experience for me and showed me once again how important outreach and education are. So far I have only given presentations to older kids or students, but meeting Adrián showed me that education really needs to start as early as possible. The thirst for knowledge that this young boy brought with him was outstanding, and what fascinated me even more was the fact that he is not content to keep this knowledge to himself. His teacher gave him an opportunity to communicate his passion in the form of a presentation to his classmates at the Bühl School in Zurich. He also intends to visit his sister´s kindergarten as well as other schools in Zurich.
Adrián, I wish you all the best for your brave plans to educate kids about sharks and I have no doubt that you will do a fantastic and outstanding job. I’m very proud of you! Also, I would like to express my gratitude to the Save Our Seas Foundation for generously donating SOSF calendars, magazines, books and bracelets to Adrián, his family and his classmates.