The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation will organize Sint Maarten Shark Week for the fourth year from the 16th until the 23rd of June. The week-long event will feature numerous activities centered on the conservation of and educating about the importance of sharks. During the event the Foundation will visit local primary schools to teach the students about the importance of sharks, threats to sharks and their remarkable biology. On the 22nd of June from 1-4 pm a fun and educational event ‘Kids Shark Day’ will be organized for all ages at Buccaneer Beach Bar. Also during this event shark art will be made from waste together with the WasteFactory. The event also includes a Shark Scavenger Hunt, Shark coloring and claying, a quiz to learn about sharks, shark tattoos, face painting and kids can dress up to be a real hammerhead or great white shark.
“We are organizing Shark Week again as we noticed that many people on St Maarten still have misperceptions about sharks. Many still believe sharks to be dangerous and that sharks eat people, however statistics and science show us the opposite; humans have been killing sharks to the brink of extinction. Everyday tons of people swim and dive safely with sharks, sharks are not the killing machines as showed by the media but creatures which are very important for the health of our ocean ecosystem” explained Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern organizer of Sint Maarten Shark Week.
Globally, human fishing pressure has resulted in at least 100 million sharks being killed annually, primarily for products such as shark fin soup and shark steaks. The cruel act of finning sharks, which sometimes involves cutting the fins off of live sharks, and selling shark products, is pushing sharks to the brink of extinction. Sharks are not frightening or dangerous but an important contributor to the ecosystem and important to the local community as they attract valuable dive tourism. Research has proven multiple times that sharks keep the coral reefs clean of sick fish and keep the ocean’s ecosystem in balance. If we do not have sharks we will lose our coral reef ecosystem and everything which depends on that such as fisheries, dive tourism, beach tourism and the very things which make us a unique island in the Caribbean. During Shark Week, the Nature Foundation will attempt to bring this awareness about sharks to the local community particularly for the children on the island.
“Besides their great importance to healthy coral reefs, fish stocks and oceans, sharks also have amazing adaptations and a diverse biology. They have roamed in our oceans for more than 400 million years, sharks existed way before dinosaurs, presently many different shark species exist in our oceans. If people think about sharks, they think about a large shark with big teeth, however there are about 550 shark and ray species in our ocean, some even as small as our hand, such as the dwarf lanternshark. We hope the school students will enjoy learning about sharks and many kids will come out to learn about sharks during our event on the 22nd of June” continued Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.