The National Sea Life Centre, Birmingham is mounting a charm offensive on behalf of that much-maligned and misunderstood sea creature…the shark.
The fortnight from October 20th to November 4th will be ‘Shark Weeks’ at the Centre, when visitors will be deluged with fascinating facts about the oceans’ apex predators, and urged to lend their support to urgent conservation efforts.
“With anything between 70 and 100 million sharks being killed every year, many species face a real threat of oblivion,” said resident marine expert Alan Kwan.
“The common perception of sharks as mindless man-eaters doesn’t help their cause,” Alan added, “and frankly, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Sharks are essential to the balance of life in our seas, taking out the weak and the sick and playing an important role in the evolution of other species.
“More people die from being hit on the head by falling coconuts every year than from shark attacks.
“We need to wake up to the fact that their loss could be disastrous for our seas, and since the seas produce most of our oxygen, ultimately it could be disastrous for the planet.”
The Centre will be hosting special shark talks, shark arts and crafts sessions and shark quiz trails among many other shark-related events.
Sea Life played a pivotal role in helping get the ugly practice of shark-finning outlawed in EU waters, and has helped in the latest mission to tighten finning regulations still further.
The European Parliament is currently debating whether or not to insist on all sharks being landed with their fins intact, rather than them be lopped off out at sea and the bodies discarded.
“Having to bring the whole shark back would mean fewer fins could be landed, and since the rest of the shark is worth much less than the fins this would massively reduce finning,” said Alan.
Sea Life centres want the practice banned entirely across the globe however, and will be collecting petition signatures during Shark Weeks in readiness for that next big push.
“All the legislation achieved in the last few years has been moving in the right direction,” said Alan.
“The ultimate goal, however, has to be to end this trade completely.
“Killing sharks and rays so their fins can make ingredients for a soup which is actually so tasteless it has to have flavouring added, is something we simply shouldn’t allow to continue.”
You can find out more about Shark Week activities by visiting the Sea Life website www.sealife.co.uk/birmingham.