VANCOUVER, Canada – The week of July 14 is designated National Shark Awareness Week. For over 400 million years, preceding dinosaurs by some 200 million years, sharks have ruled the oceans. Despite its enduring evolutionary run however, sharks are facing an immense threat from humans due to to our widespread destructive activities are threatening our oceans. In honor of Shark Awareness Week, SEEtheWILD has put together a list of top shark programs where visitors can get up close and personal with these misunderstood creatures.
Thanks to Hollywood, sharks are one of the most feared creatures on earth. Unprovoked shark attacks are however extremely rare – you are 30 times more likely to die from a lightening strike than from a shark attack. Humans kill nearly 100 million sharks every year, or an average of 11,000 sharks per hour. Organizations around the world are working tirelessly to educate the public and protect these amazing creatures that are an integral and critical part of a healthy ocean ecosystem.
Wildlife conservation travel website SEEtheWILD suggests the following shark conservation projects:
Shark Conservation in Belize – Join Dr. Demian Chapman, a prominent shark conservationist, on a volunteer expedition to the South Water Caye marine reserve off the shores of Belize. Learn how to track sharks, catch them to study their diets, film them using underwater cameras, and study their recovery in the newly protected waters. Lend a helping hand in the research all while enjoying the beautiful Caribbean waters and reefs of the Belizean coast.
Swim with Whale Sharks in Mexico – Located 10 miles off the coast of Cancun, the “island of women” is the perfect place to dive into the water and be surrounded by wildlife and stunning coral sculptures. The Whale Shark Biosphere Reserve protects 145,988 acres of surface area and below of water swimming with the largest living fish, the gentle whale shark. Snorkel around the island and get up close with these giant and gentle spotted fish. Although they share the name, whale sharks do not have rows of sharp teeth like other sharks.
Cocos Island Shark & Sea Turtle Research Trip in Costa Rica – Cocos Island National Park, located off the coast of Costa Rica, is internationally revered for its diverse and rare marine life and was named the best place to dive with sharks by CNN. This World Heritage site is home to many species that are under threat due to illegal fishing practices which you can help counter. Dive into the waters with renowned conservationists and come face to face with different species of sea turtles, several species of sharks, and be swarmed by great schools of fish. Your efforts will directly impact the conservation project and help protect the diverse yet delicate underwater ecosystem.