What word springs to mind when you hear the word ‘Shark?’ Predator? Jaws? Aggressive? How about graceful, calm and friendly?
The general perception of sharks has been highly influenced by media’s exaggeration and twist on the truth for entertainment value. Conservationists around the world are focusing their efforts on portraying sharks for what they truly are; fascinating, majestic and graceful animals.
During the month of August, S.E.A. Aquarium is hosting a range of educational activities include
- story-telling sessions on weekends,
- shark-themed Ocean Dreams sleepover programme,
- witnessing shark-feeding sessions by our aquarists,
- new shark dive programme for our diving enthusiasts.
The aim of the month-long activities is to educate and raise awareness about sharks and to dispel any misconceptions of the species.
Highlight of Shark Month: Cristina Zenato
The key highlight for this month is our collaboration with WildAid Shark Savers, bringing in Cristina Zenato who will be making public appearances and interacting with our resident sharks in our Shark Seas habitat. Cristina is also the latest ambassador to join the ‘I’m FINished with FINS’ campaign, spearheaded by WildAid Shark Savers.
Cristina is a cave explorer, ocean conservationist and a champion for shark conservation. She believes in the power of education and has dedicated countless time and energy in non-profit work, spanning from educational videos to cost free diving education for local people to presentations around the world.
Assisting to disperse sharks fearsome reputation Cristina Zenato has the ability to place sharks into a state whereby they appear to ‘fall asleep’, known as tonic immobility.
Tonic immobility is a state of paralysis which sharks can enter naturally. Experts think this tonic immobility is related to mating in sharks and is used by other creatures to avoid predators by ‘playing dead’ and blending in with surroundings.
Many conservationists have made use of tonic immobility to educate other divers, remove parasites and even remove fishing hooks caught in the sharks’ mouth.
How tonic immobility happens
Sharks have a sixth sense called electroreception. All living creatures produce an electric field by contracting their muscles, for example a heartbeat. Using receptors, sharks can detect electrical pulses. These receptors are a network of jelly-filled pores which are located around the head and snout of the shark called ‘ampullae of Lorenzini’.
When the shark’s head is rubbed, these sensory organs are stimulated which may alter the electro-magnetic field sensing ability of the animal, causing tonic immobility . It is thought that sharks can stay in this state for up to 15 minutes and can ‘snap out of it’ and return to a normal position.
S.E.A. Aquarium collaborates with WildAid Shark Savers
Many shark populations throughout the world have declined by 90% or more over the past 50 years, especially those species most valued in the shark fin trade.
S.E.A. Aquarium and WildAid Shark Savers believe in educating guests on the importance of shark conservation and we believe that by working together it is possible to reach out to even more members of the public. The viral success of the WildAid Shark Savers “I’m FINished with FINs” has had a huge impact; with a 33% drop in local shark fin trade and consumption reported last year.
With our unified aim, S.E.A. Aquarium and WildAid Shark Savers aim to educate visitors on shark biology, behaviour and conservation, in the hope reduce demand of this unsustainable practice.