Shark Education in Dubai: 2015 tour a huge success!

Dubai School tour 2015 has been a huge success for Shark Guardian. 12 schools and almost 3000 students and teachers saw Shark Guardian Directors Brendon Sing and Liz ward-Sing in action over a week long tour. Once again this tour was sponsored by UK Charity Global Ocean, aiming to spread shark education and awareness throughout the UAE. A fabulous way to celebrate our amazing sharks!

Shark Guardian in Dubai 2015

Shark Guardian in Dubai 2015

Excitement and enthusiasm starts the tour with a bang!

Book reading and presentation at Gems Royal Dubai

Book reading and presentation at Gems Royal Dubai

The educational school tour started with a return to Gems Royal Dubai. Two presentations targeted the 650 students in Key Stage 1 and 2. Shark Guardian enjoyed being back at this school, especially to showcase the new children’s book: ‘Sharks Our ocean guardians’ to the younger students. Combined with slides from the full presentation, the book reading certainly excited all students about the journey of Jed the hammerhead!

Shark guardian with the DUNEHA group

Shark guardian with the DUNEHA group

In the afternoon we visited our friends at the Emirates Diving Association (EDA) presenting to the DUNEHA home school group. Fabulous to have a personal session with these students who were full of questions!

A busy schedule and so much passion for UAE sharks!

Shark jaws inspire students

Shark jaws inspire students

On to the American International School where the Year 10 boys enjoyed learning lots of new and interesting shark facts. The shark jaws loaned by IFAW UAE to help emphasise presentation content were a huge hit here and in all presentations. The year 7 and 8’s at The Gems Wellington Accademy in Al Khail were another audience full of questions. We think we have inspired some future Student Shark Ambassadors in these older students.

Changing student perceptions about sharks

American Academy, Al Mizhar

Shark education at American Academy, Al Mizhar

Shark Guardian found that, especially with the younger students of the UAE, there is so much fear about sharks. This was common on the last trip and also around Asia. This highlighted the importance  of shark education here and why the Shark Guardian presentation is so necessary. At Victoria Heights Primary and the American Academy (Al Mizhar) it was fantastic to see how students were converted to admire and respect sharks. The older students at the American Academy were also asking lots of question about learning to dive so they could see sharks! A great result! With the right education and understanding, we CAN change attitudes and then these same students will spread those positive facts far and wide.

A busy morning in Sharjah

Gems Westminster, Sharjah

Gems Westminster, Sharjah

Shark Guardian enjoyed returning to Sharjah and the Gems Westminster School. Years 3-5 then the secondary girls were fantastic audiences – but once again there was a need to change the false perceptions of sharks with these 600+ students. On to another return visit to Dubai English Speaking School to fit in with the sustainability unit for the Year 4 students. So much enthusiasm for sharks in this group – knowledge of sharks at the start was immense so Shark Guardian added fuel to this. As always it is even better to link the Shark Guardian presentation to current school studies. Shark Guardian know this group will use their new found knowledge to enhance their current conservation activities and pass on the great shark vibe throughout DESS in other years.

Shark education for the future: Getting the older students involved with Shark Guardian

Later in the Shark Guardian tour, a few excellent sessions were spent with older students who are very keen to enhance their knowledge about sharks further, as well as supporting the Shark Guardian UK charity. Shark Guardian firstly visited the Jumeirah English Speaking school in the Arabian ranches since one of the upper school ‘house’ groups have selected Shark Guardian as their charity for this year. Shark Guardian were extremely excited to meet students from this group, talk more about sharks and Shark Guardian, and plan a strategy for getting students trained as student shark ambassadors. Watch this space for feedback from this inspired group!

Dubai College

Dubai College

The Year 8 girls from Al Khaleej National school were another group to be inspired – so many questions after the presentation. These students really enjoyed examining the shark teeth, plus the shark fins that were handed around. Seeing the fins after watching a shark finning video really brought the topic close to hand, reinforcing how brutal and pointless shark finning is. The Dubai College was another captive audience and we look forward to strong collaboartions with these year 7 and 8 students in the future. Students even stayed during their lunch break to ask more questions and learn more about sharks!

A fantastic ending at the Dubai British School

Interested pupils at the Dubai British School

Interested pupils at the Dubai British School

The final day of the Shark Guardian Dubai Tour 2015 was a presentation to the 450 primary students at the Dubai British School. From the introductory video the children were gripped and Shark Guardian cannot wait to see some follow up activities from this group. This concluded 12 schools and nearly 3000 students and teachers. Shark education is definitely much needed in this part of the world and Shark Guardian are proud to play a role in it, as well as promoting the work of UAE organisations such as IFAW, The Gulf Elasmo Project,  Shark Watch Arabia and the EDA.

Sharing IFAW resources at Victoria Heights

Sharing IFAW resources at Victoria Heights

Save our sharks poster competition from 2014: Winners presented with their celebratory books

School competition winners at Al Khaleej National School

School competition winners at Al Khaleej National School

During the time in Dubai and Sharjah, Shark Guardian presented the student winners and schools who participated in the Shark Guardian/Global ocean 2014 poster competition, with celebratory shark books. The beautiful books showcase the works of students from the UAE which aim to highlight the importance of sharks, why we must protect them and why we should celebrate the 31 species of sharks that can be found in UAE waters. Of the hundreds of entires in to the competition, it was very difficult for the selected judges to choose winners. The book is a great final collection that really does highlight the education, awareness and attitudes the students have towards conserving sharks.

More books will be presented in an official capacity to NGO’s, celebrities and government officials in an event to be showcased in Dubai later in the year. Stay tuned to learn more about Shark Guardian and Global Oceans’ plans for more shark education in the UAE! As well as ways in which you could be a part of this wonderful project!

Thank you!

Shark Guardian thanks Global Ocean and everyone involved for supporting this tour and making it so successful. As Brendon and Liz prepare for the arrival of their very own Shark Guardian, they will be focusing on Thailand schools over the next month. Check our Facebook page and website for upcoming events near you!

Shark Guardian Directors Liz Ward-Sing and Brendon Sing

Shark Guardian Directors Liz Ward-Sing and Brendon Sing

 

Childrens Book gets ‘world premier’ in Phuket School!

New childrens book ‘Sharks Our ocean Guardians’ was unveiled to the general public on 11th December 2014. After months of planning, drafting and an amazing creation by childrens author Gail Clarke, what better place to unveil the book than at the school where the connection to Gail began. Headstart International students (Phuket, Thailand) had also raised money in the project to ensure the Shark Guardian educational book can be delivered free to schools around the world.

Childrens Book release, Phuket, Thailand

Childrens Book release, Phuket, Thailand

Headstart International, Phuket, Thailand

Liz presents Headstart with a 'Thank You' certificate for their donation

Liz presents Headstart with a ‘Thank You’ certificate for their donation

Shark Guardian Director Liz ward-Sing was delighted to return to Headstart just over a year since Shark Guardian delivered a day of presentations there at the end of 2013. Liz thanked the staff and students for their help in the book campaign. Students brought money as a donation on a non-uniform day a few weeks earlier helping Shark Guardian with a big push to get the new books printed.

New childrens book is very well received!

Book reading at Headstart

Book reading at Headstart

Liz presented the new book with a book reading session in two groups. Both sets of lower school students were full of questions and comments – the educational value of the book immediately being highlighted. The students loved the evolution introduction with as ever a fascination with the extinct megalodon shark. Then on to learn about different shark species and the importance in our oceans. Finally the students welcomed the arrival of the main character, Jed the hammerhead, who we will follow on his epic ocean adventures in the book sequels. Happy students and shark education spreading once more in Thailand!

Get your own book now!

Shark Guardian continue to raise money for the book project to ensure as many books as possible can go to schools around the world for FREE! If you would like to help in this project then follow this LINK now. If you have an idea of where a book or books should go (anywhere in the world!) then email liz@sharkguardian.org right away! If you would like to purchase a book from our online store then follow this LINK now.

Cover: Shark Guardian Childrens book Part 1

Cover: Shark Guardian Childrens book Part 1

Thanks for all the support!

Shark Guardian has so far raised more than £1800 of the £2500 needed to secure production of the second book as well as to give most of the books away for free. A huge thank you goes to everyone around the world who has supported this project! A big thank you also goes to many Shark Guardian dive centers who have contributed.

Leopard shark and whale shark night in Khao Lak!

Shark Guardian were delighted to have Dr Christine Dudgeon, Scientist behind Spot the Leopard Shark – Thailand, in Khao Lak on the west coast of Thailand. Christine has been touring dive communities promoting the project and updating people on the findings. A 70+ crowd turned out for a great night learning about leopard sharks and research on 4th December. Shark Guardian also presented important facts about whale sharks and why their new photographing program, linked with whaleshark.org is so important for monitoring shark populations in Thailand.

A full house at Walkers Inn

A full house at Walkers Inn

Spot the leopard Shark – Thailand

Spot The Leopard Shark Update

Spot The Leopard Shark Update

The Spot the Leopard Shark project has been running since August 2013. Shark Guardian Directors Liz and Brendon were on Koh Phi Phi for the launch. They have been sharing and promoting the project since then. It was fantastic to get an update on the data collected so far.

The audience was given extensive information about leopard sharks, species identification, development and long distance migration. Plus anatomy and mating descriptions ensured the evening was light hearted and fun!

Leopard shark deveopment

Leopard shark development

The project has been a huge success so far, even proving long distance migration of a leopard shark between Phuket reefs and Koh Tachai. This popular dive site is north of the Similan Islands – a distance of more than 160km from Phuket!! Please continue to take photographs of all leopard sharks seen in Thai waters and contribute to the project.

Whale Sharks

Brendon SIng presents whale sharks in Khao Lak

Brendon SIng presents whale sharks in Khao Lak

Shark Guardian, in collaboration with Whaleshark.org, is focusing on encouraging the correct photographic identification (ID) shots of whale sharks throughout Thailand waters. The Thailand database for the west coast is particularly lacking in ID shots. Shark Guardian is therefore making it easy for all divers and snorkelers to both learn how to take the correct photographic shots, and also to upload them to the global database. Learn more from this LINK.

The Leopard shark night was the perfect opportunity for Shark Guardian to talk more about this project with the Khao Lak audience. With more whale shark sightings just days after the presentation, we hope this database is growing by the day!

Leopard sharks and the Similan islands

Dr Christine Dudgeon in action

Dr Christine Dudgeon in action

Dr Christine Dudgeon and Brendon took a day off to go diving around Koh Tachai at the weekend. This is where most leopard sharks have been seen over the past few years. However as with the rest of Thailand, leopard shark sightings here and in the Similan islands have reduced considerably. This highlights the need for important citizen science research programs, such as Spot the Leopard Shark and Thailand eShark. Shark Guardian will continue to push these projects and hope that Thailand fishing and National Park laws can improve with this important data. Unfortunately Christine and Brendon were not lucky on this occasion. They thank Similan seven Seas for taking them diving and for the expert knowledge and information provided by the local dive guide.

Thanks!

IMG_2337Thank you to everyone who attended this fantastic event. We wish Christine even more success with her project. Shark Guardian will be presenting on dive boats over the coming week as well as organising a Christmas special shark night in Khao Lak! In January they return to Dubai to present in schools. Please contact liz@sharkguardian.org if you have school contacts or other useful links for Shark Guardian there.

Koh Phi Phi and Ao Nang, Thailand, get some serious Shark Guardian education!

Shark Guardian rounded off a busy few weeks visiting key diving locations on the west of Thailand. A few days on Koh Phi Phi included a very well attended presentation. Plus the Shark Guardian directors went diving and snorkelling in search of sharks and valuable research data. Finally Ao Nang last week proved a valuable time to educate another 2 groups of enthusiastic divers, volunteers and tourists. With an extra bit of eduction in dive shops to promote Thailand eShark, this has been a most enjoyable and highly positive start to the west coast diving season.

Shark Guardian with projects Abroad, Ao Nang

Shark Guardian with projects Abroad, Ao Nang

Koh Phi Phi

Shark Guardian on Koh Phi Phi with Blue View Divers

Shark Guardian on Koh Phi Phi with Blue View Divers

At the start of November Shark Guardian spent a very productive few days on Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, Thailand. A presentation hosted by Shark Guardian Dive Center Blue View Divers was a fun filled shark evening. This was a great time to connect with the staff at Blue View who are fabulous in supporting all Shark Guardian projects, offering that bit extra to their guests when it comes to sharks and conservation.

Blue View Shark night

Blue View Shark night

A few days of snorkelling and diving unfortunately identified no sharks. However this is important reserach data for Thailand eShark Phase 2 which is well on its way now. There seems to be a few obvious locations now in Thailand where black tip reef shark populations have reduced massively, or potentially been wiped out. This is very sad news. But with evidence of past data to compare recent sightings, Shark Guardian hope to turn this into postive action with stronger fishing laws and marine protected reserves.

Ao Nang, Krabi: 2 presentations and dive shop visits!

Friday the 14th of November was a busy day for Shark Guardian in Ao Nang on the west coast of Thailand. First location was a return to the Projects Abroad Headquarters and the first personal Shark Guardian presentation there. 13 volunteers really enjoyed learning more about sharks. Plus they were all very excited to hear about research in the area and how they can all contribute. Shark Guardian look forward to seeing the Thailand eShark participation from Projects Abroad who provided extensive data for us during Phase 1 of the Project.

Shark Guardian at TJ's

Shark Guardian at TJ’s

A return to TJ’s Bar and Grill in Ao Nang in the evening was a huge success. A full house with old and new faces was such great fun for Shark Guardian. An update on activities over the past 6 months plus a focus on projects including Thailand eShark, Spot the Leopard shark and the new Whale Shark monitoring project. Huge enthusiasm from the crowd, some interesting questions and a lot of motivation for all projects. This was follwed up with some dive shop visits the next day which included a small interview from a Swedish student currently in Ao Nang on an intern project!  Shark Guardian look forward to returning to Ao Nang later in the year.

Shark resources available to all Thailand dive shops

eShark posters available now

eShark posters available now

Shark Guardian continue to give posters and handouts to all Thailand dive, snorkel and free diving centers to help promote Shark Guardian projects as well as shark education in general. Please get in touch if you or your dive shop would like more information. In the next few weeks Shark Guardian will be presenting on dive boats in Khao Lak. And at the start of December, special events with Spot the Leopard Shark researcher Christine Dudgeon may be at a Thailand location near you!

Hong kong Tshirt Competition Winner announced!!

The Shark Guardian Hong Kong School Tshirt competition finally came to a close last week as the winner was awarded their design on their very own tshirt! After hundreds of entries from the 14 schools Shark Guardian visited in May/June 2014, Kelly Wong from Quarry Bay School was named the outright winner. Shark Guardian directors sent a special congratulatory video to be played to announce the winner at the school. Kelly was then given her own shirt – a huge congratulations to this fabulous Shark Guardian!

Shark Guardian Hong Kong Tshirt competition 2014

Shark Guardian Hong Kong Tshirt competition 2014

New Shark Guardian Tshirt designed by a Hong Kong student

Shark Guardian wanted a new tshirt to complement their time in Hong Kong. During the second Hong Kong school tour in May/June this year, all schools visited were asked to reflect on the learning delivered through the Shark Guardian educational presentations. Shark Guardian asked students to come up with a new tshirt design to share important messages but also to send a positive message about sharks. The winning design was a firm favourite amongst the judges from the start and Shark Guardian hope you agree that it does a great job. It conveys the message ‘Say No to Shark Fin’ whilst showing a beautiful ocean scene on the back to show how important sharks are.

Back of the new tshirt with important ocean messaage

Back of the new tshirt with important ocean messaage

WINNER: Kelly Wong, Quarry BAy School, Hong Kong

WINNER: Kelly Wong, Quarry Bay School, Hong Kong

Tshirt competition winner

A surprised Kelly is congratulated!

A surprised Kelly is congratulated!

Kelly Wong was 9 years old when she drew the design. She is currently in Year 5 at Quarry Bay school. Quarry Bay teacher and Shark Guardian follower Stephanie  Gilchrist said that Kelly was shocked and surprised when her name was read out on the video! “She looked a little confused and disbelieving and was a little lost for words!”. Kelly loves the ocean and the animals inside it and “was inspired by the Shark Guardian talk in school” to create the fabulous design.

Get your own limited edition Hong Kong tshirt!

If you would like your own Hong Kong Tshirt designed by Kelly then please see our website or email us directly at info@sharkgardian.org for more information. Shark Guardian hope that lots of students wear these tshirts around Hong Kong to play a role in the education of the wider issue of shark finning and shark fin soup consumption, where Hong Kong plays such a key role in both aspects.

Congratulations!

Once again thank you to Kelly and to Quarry Bay and all schools for supporting the competition. The entries from Quarry Bay were immense and there has been lots of follow up from the visit earlier this year. A huge congratulations to kelly! We wish kelly and her student friends all the best in becoming the next generation of Shark Guardians! Anyone can make a difference in this world and the younger you start the better.

She was inspired by your talk in school. She loves the ocean and the animals inside it.