Shark Guardian at Oceans 5
It is a Sunday night with Shark Guardian at Oceans 5 Dive resort, and the front yard is packed with people. Brendon Sing is on stage. “The first time I saw a wild shark was in Sodwina bay, South Africa when I was 16. As a fresh open water diver I went on the reef with 12 meters of water above me. And then I see this majestic reef shark. I’m breathing like a freight train and my arms and legs go wild… and the shark is gone, scared of me! At that moment everything changed for me. Sharks are more afraid of us then we them and they have every right to be.”
Sharks have survived in the oceans for 400 million years. But now these superb predators that are vital for the worlds ecosystem are facing a serious threat in the form of another predator, humans. Sharks need help.
How Shark Guardian started
Five years ago Brendon together with his wife Elisabeth quit their day jobs as dive professionals and started to work full time to protect the sharks of the world. In 2013, the work was organised under a UK based charity organisation and Shark Guardian was born. Today Brendon, Elisabeth and their four month old daughter Olivia are travelling around the world to make the people see the importance of sharks. “It all happened naturally, I just talked about sharks cause I love them. It grew and grew and then we said lets give a name for it, and then it became Shark Guardian. We already see the results of our work. We have received letters from parents saying that they learned so much from their kids about sharks that they don’t want to eat shark anymore. We are self funded by raising donations and selling merchandise so that we can go to as many places as possible to give our educational presentations and workshops.”
The Shark Guardians have been at Oceans 5 for three times during the last two years. ” We had heard about Sander and the good reputation he has and decided to contact him. The co operation has been fruitful ever since. We always get a good crowd when we visit Oceans 5. Last time we were here we organised a night dive and went out to Sunset to see the Whitetip reef sharks hunting in the dark, That was really awesome! When I see a shark under water I feel humble and honoured for being in presence with something that has been around for 400 millions years.”
One of the Shark Guardian projects is called Eshark. For divers it is a great way to participate. By collecting dive log data Shark guardians will be able to provide evidence about the changes in the Shark populations around the world.
“Sharks are dominant apex predators in all the oceans. They are on top of the food chain. If you remove sharks, the species under them will overpopulate and have a damaging domino effect to the whole ecosystem they belong to. A prime example of this can be seen in the US east coast, where Hammerhead sharks were regularly seen, but are now fished to near extinction. This has lead to an overpopulation of cownose rays which in their turn have destroyed shell fish population which were a major source of income for the fishing industry. More sharks in the oceans means more fish in the oceans. This is already proven with marine sanctuaries where sharks are protected and as a result, all aquatic populations are in better condition.”
After the presentation Brendon and Elisabeth are bombarded by questions. People are eagerly asking how they could participate. “Media is treating the sharks in a ugly way.Sharks are not cute like dolphins and turtles. But sharks are not after humans, we are not a part of their diet. Shark attacks are unfortunate mistakes. To turn this around, we try to establish more knowledge about sharks, underlining the value of sharks to people. It is a privilege to see sharks, it is a positive rewarding experience. For dive professionals I have a very simple request: Please pass this message to all your dive students. For divers and non divers I would ask you to make an important decision not to buy or eat any shark related products. ”