It’s that time again…the best week of the year has finally arrived! One of the most common questions we get from our community during Shark Week is “What can I do to help?” Well, friend, look no further. From decreasing your single-use plastic usage to supporting scientific research that promotes shark habitat conservation, you don’t have to be a scientist, policy wonk or ocean expert to help save sharks this year. Here are nine key ways you can help give back and protect our ocean’s sharks this Shark Week.
Take action to help protect sharks from marine debris
From the depths of the Mariana Trench to the most remote ice in the Arctic, plastic pollution has been found everywhere on Earth and threatens marine life on a daily basis. Now, Congress is taking on the marine debris issue, with the recent introduction of the Save Our Seas Act 2.0 . This bill is critical in the fight against marine debris, because it not only outlines new ways to support cooperative initiatives on the global stage, but also commits resources to scientific research and suggests new efforts across the country to improve our waste management infrastructure. By taking action today, you can help our nation take a step forward to make sure our ocean is protected against the ever-growing threat of plastic pollution.
Keep an eye out for sharks
And no, we don’t just mean keep an eye out in case you see one. What we mean is to keep an eye out for them like you might for a friend, always keeping their wellbeing at top of mind (because these days, they truly need it). Many people have a negative opinion of sharks because of the way these animals have been portrayed in popular culture. As a result, it’s all the more important that we do everything we can to protect sharks when we see them in trouble. If you see sharks being treated poorly at the beach or on a boat, report it to local authorities. If you see a stranded shark, remember, don’t touch it: the best thing you can do to ensure its survival is to call in the experts who are skilled in marine wildlife stranding response. And, if you hear people spreading stories about how scary and dangerous sharks are, remind them that we are much more of a threat to sharks than these animals have ever been to us!
Take the pledge to decrease your single-use plastic usage
Speaking of plastics, there are things you can do to help in the fight against marine debris in your daily life, too! The choices that we make each and every day are ones that can help stem the tide of plastic pollution, and by taking baby steps to decrease our use of single-use plastic products, our mindful choices can translate into game-changers for sharks and other marine wildlife. From opting from reusable straws to carrying a reusable water bottle, there are so many simple, easy ways to make more sustainable adjustments to your daily life. Take the pledge today and commit to making small changes that make a big difference for sharks around the world.
Volunteer at the International Coastal Cleanup
Working toward a cleaner ocean means not only decreasing our use of single-use plastics, but also cleaning up the marine debris that’s already polluting our ocean and shorelines. That’s why on the third weekend of every September, Ocean Conservancy hosts the world’s largest volunteer effort on behalf of ocean health: the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC). Now mobilizing hundreds of thousands of volunteers in more than 100 countries each year, the ICC is a single-day event where tens of millions of pieces of marine debris are removed from coastlines in a unified effort to keep marine and coastal ecosystems clean and protected. Are you ready? Find a location near you and get ready to join the cleanup in less than two months!
Make smart choices when it comes to seafood
The fish in our ocean are not only critical to vibrant marine ecosystems—they also are important players when it comes to supporting coastal economies and communities around the world! Given how important fish are to so many people worldwide, it’s imperative that we make smart decisions when it comes to our consumption of seafood. For example, some fishing practices can result in high levels of bycatch, where sharks become trapped in fishing gear. To make sure that the seafood you purchase in markets and restaurants comes from sustainable sources, give your restaurant patronage to restaurants that are committed to sustainability, and make use of tools like Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, where you can learn all about how to make smart seafood choices, no matter where you are. Plus, stay up-to-date about the latest information on sustainable fisheries by following along on our website’s fisheries program page!
Ask Congress to support ocean acidification research
Did you know that ocean acidification is a growing threat for sharks? Species like the blacktip reef shark live amidst our ocean’s beautiful coral reefs, but across the globe, these reefs are being damaged (big time). As the ocean absorbs more carbon, it becomes more acidified, degrading and harming not only the physical structures of the reefs, but also the food supplies for sharks that thrive within these ecosystems. By taking action and supporting federal funding for ocean acidification research, you can urge our nation’s leaders to work to protect the ecosystems that sharks like blacktips depend on.
Learn all you can about sharks
When it comes to both sharks and all other wildlife that call our ocean home, the first and foremost thing you can do to protect them is to learn all about them. When you know the facts, you know not only how spectacular these creatures are, but also what the biggest threats to their survival are…and how to protect them from those threats. Visit our Wildlife Fact Sheets and recent wildlife blogs, including this one, to read up on your shark facts.
Share your love for sharks on social
They say that when people love something, they want to protect it…and when you love something and want to protect it, you want other people to do the same thing, too! Share the latest shark-related content from our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, and always feel free to share most recent blog articles to your own social channels to keep your friends and family up-to-date. Plus, encourage them to make sure they’re following us on social media, too, for the absolute best in shark and wildlife content all year ‘round (and a few jaw-some shark puns mixed in, of course).
Donate to conservation initiatives that help sharks
Here at Ocean Conservancy, we’re constantly engaging in conservation initiatives that help protect vulnerable species like our ocean’s sharks. From committing to developing programs that keep our ocean trash-free to protecting endangered species and beyond, our work to save wildlife like sharks never stops. Most of the threats facing sharks today are man-made, but if we all work together to turn the tide for sharks’ future, the solutions can be, too. Donating to support sharks this Shark Week gives you a direct impact on the growth and development of our conservation programs. Donate today, or start your own fundraiser on Facebook by clicking the “Create Fundraiser” button at the top of our Facebook page to get your friends and family involved, too!
At the end of the day, it’s the little things we do, repeated day in and day out, that have the potential to make the greatest impact when it comes to saving sharks. Together, we can change the future for our ocean’s sharks and make sure their home is safe and thriving for years to come.
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