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Speaking up for Sharks: Kids Against the Western Australia Shark Cull

2nd March 2014   |   Jackie Hutchings

As children, we all had moments where we felt over looked or as though no one was listening, frustrated and powerless.  One of the main goals of Sharks4Kids is to encourage the voice each child when it come to speaking for sharks and our oceans.  Children have a much louder and far-reaching voice than they often realize and we hope to not only support, but to offer a platform highlighting their thoughts, feelings and concerns.  Each voice and each effort, no matter how big or small is making an impact.

The shark cull in Western Australia has catalyzed a powerful movement around the world, with conservationists, scientists, shark enthusiasts, ocean lovers, celebrities and yes, even kids, speaking out against it.  Some of the students we have spoken with via our Skype classroom visits have really felt compelled to voice their opinion and the world is watching.

I spoke with Mr. Grabowski’s 6th grade class in October and loved their energy and enthusiasm towards the ocean and sharks.  Despite living in a landlocked part of Canada, Mr. Grabowski is an avid scuba diver, so his love for the ocean is continuously flowing into the classroom and his students saw the shark cull as the perfect opportunity to speak up.  They drafted a very well thought out letter to Premier Colin Barnett, citing their disapproval of the cull.

“Human life is very important and when lives are lost through shark attacks it is very unfortunate.  However, sharks have been in our oceans for 400 million years, we can’t fault them for that.  How do you ‘mitigate’ animals in their own environment?  Where are they supposed to go?   How do you tell a shark that tourism dollars are more important and we’ll worry about environmental and biodiversity implications later?”

After receiving a perfectly nondescript response in return, they did not get discouraged, writing another very well informed and passionate response.  They did not go off topic, ranting about fining or some other peripheral shark issues, but stayed focused and concise in their commitment to the issue of shark culling.  Their letter got the attention of Sea Shepherd leaders, Australian newspapers and even, “Her Deepness” Dr. Sylvia Earle.  One class of passionate kids showed the world how much they care about sharks and the world took notice.

Mr. Grabowski’s students are setting a strong example, not only for other students, but also for the general public and other conservationists.  You can speak from the heart, but you also need to stay on topic and fact check.  It is also a beautiful reminder to the world that kids have a lot to say and they have some amazing ideas, we just need to open our minds and our ears!  Other classes, including Mr. Russell’s 4th grade in Ireland, have created posters and signs showing their disapproval of the cull.

If your class or school is interested in learning about sharks, check out www.sharks4kids.com and even going our Splash4Sharks Campaign. It is time to speak up and make a splash for sharks and for our oceans.

About The Author

Jillian Morris is an underwater photographer/videographer, marine biologist, ocean advocate and Founder of Sharks4Kids. She has traveled the globe doing shark research and logged hundreds of hours in the water with some of the largest apex predators in the world.   You can follow Jillian on Twitter here.


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