Shark Guardian Dubai school tour Part 2: 5000+ students inspired for shark conservation

Shark Guardian school tour in Dubai, 2014

Shark Guardian school tour in Dubai, 2014

Shark Guardian finished their successful first Dubai school tour on Tuesday 11th February 2014. 14 schools, 22 presentations and workshops plus a general public event at VOX cinema results in more than 5000 Dubai and Sharjah residents, mainly children, now inspired to get involved in shark conservation. Shark Guardian thank our sponsors Global Ocean for making this visit possible and helping spread our shark education in the UAE.

Sunday 9th February: Gems Winchester School, Jebel Ali

Shark Guardian visit Gems Winchester School in Jebel Ali

Shark Guardian visit Gems Winchester School in Jebel Ali

Starting the second week in Jebel Ali, Shark Guardian felt like movie stars as we were led in to a huge hall with the lights dimmed! 350 children from Years 8 and 9 welcomed us in with a massive round of applause after the introduction video. This kicked the week off in amazing Shark Guardian style. At the end there were lots of questions about the Shark Guardian competition we are running in collaboration with Global Ocean. We cannot wait to see the posters and pictures this enthusiastic group creates, showing their passion and support for our sharks.

American Academy in Al Mizha: 115 students from different years are brought together by sharks

American Academy in Al Mizhar

American Academy in Al Mizhar

Nora Norris, science teacher, initially invited us to speak to her Year 10 and 11 students in their animal awareness lesson. However, when other teachers heard about the shark focus, they wanted to come too! We had 1st graders and 6th graders join the older students so we had to be creative to cater for all ages. A very fun session which was very much needed given, once again, the initial high number of students admitting they were scared of sharks. Positive feedback at the end demonstrated that with the right information, the monster image of the shark can be recreated in to the amazing, important creature that it really is.

Monday 10th February: Shark Guardians go to different schools to ensure Raffles schools get a full dose of Shark education

Shark Guardian Director Liz Ward-Sing

Shark Guardian Director Liz Ward-Sing

Liz started the morning at Raffles International School with 2 huge presentations. First of all the Grade 1 and 2 pupils enjoyed learning about the importance of sharks as well as local species found in the waters of the UAE. Liz could not believe the fear shown in some young children in the introductory video when they saw sharks! Nowhere has there been this level of apprehension to sharks. However, once again, positive reactions and changing views were evident by the end.

Liz’s second session to the Year 3, 4 and 5 students was a huge success. Many children were already excited about sharks and were asking questions even before the presentation began. At the end Liz was swamped with eager children trying to learn more and wanting to gain further insight in to Liz’s shark diving experiences. This was fantastic to see and there was amazing, positive feedback.

Shark Guardian Director Brendon Sing

Shark Guardian Director Brendon Sing

Brendon attended raffles World Academy just round the corner for some different shark action. The focus for the Year 3 students here was to learn about the running and objectives of a charity as part of open sessions for children to learn more about the world. Brendon talked about our backgrounds and why we have focused on educating others. Then he highlighted the reasons for choosing sharks, talking about their importance and why we need to protect them.

The students and teachers at Raffles World Academy were really appreciative of the visit and cannot wait for Shark Guardian to return. Brendon learnt that one young girl was so scared of sharks that she was nearly removed from the class. However, she sat with a teacher at the back of the room and listened attentively to the information. By the end she was hugely grateful to have seen the different side to the shark. Her response was one of enjoyment and did not feel as scared of sharks – huge result.

An afternoon at Gems Jumeirah Primary School – 210 children

Gems Jumeirah Primary School

Gems Jumeirah Primary School

Monday finished with Shark Guardian in an assembly for the Year 5 and 6 students at Jumeirah Primary. Timing meant that some of the planned assembly did not happen but the teachers did not mind. They really enjoyed the session, as did the students. Nearly every child wanted to ask a question at the end. They were truly excited to hear about the 30 shark species found in waters of the UAE. They also wanted to know more about other sharks we did not mention! There is never enough time!

Tuesday 11th finishes the Dubai School tour on a high!

Lycee Libanais Francophone Privee (Lebanese French School)

Lycee Libanais Francophone Privee (Lebanese French School)

In the morning of the 11th February, 2 classes of science students at the Dubai International Academy really enjoyed their shark education. Then in the afternoon, 140 students from Grades 6 and 7 at the Lycee Libanais Francophone School were an amazing crowd to round off the Shark Guardian tour. Lots of children said they wanted to learn to dive with sharks following the presentations and were excited about the competition. The students also were very happy to receive their booklets provided by Global Ocean.

Global Ocean educational booklets to raise awareness of UAE elasmobranchs

Global ocean: sponsor of Shark Guardian Dubai School Tour 2014

Global ocean: sponsor of Shark Guardian Dubai School Tour 2014

All students who have seen Shark Guardian in action over the last 12 days will receive an educational booklet from Global Ocean. It highlights the reasons why sharks need protection and why we must look after our oceans. The booklet mentions the sharks of the UAE – the focus of our presentations whilst in Dubai. Most people we have presented to have been very surprised to learn that so many species of elasmobranchs (sharks, rays and skates) can be found in these waters.


By highlighting how safe sharks really are and how important they are for our oceans, we have been able to make people less scared of sharks. Better understanding and knowledge means people will make better choices and not buy any shark related products. Better knowledge also means people are inspired to get involved in conservation. We think we have done a great job with these 5000+ children and adults over the past few weeks and cannot wait to return.

Success in Dubai! But why so scared of sharks?

Posters, mugs and calendars donated by IFAW to be given to school students in Dubai

Posters, mugs and calendars donated by IFAW to be given to school students in Dubai

Shark Guardian once again wish to thank Global Ocean for their support for this tour. Also Emirate Diving Association, VOX and IFAW have been hugely supportive. This is the first time a full tour has been sponsored and the result is a massive number of children able to learn about sharks and marine life.

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The time in Dubai and audiences we have seen has highlighted how many people in this part of the world are scared of sharks. We are unsure the reasons for this since  shark attacks are exceptionally rare in these waters. However, as we talk about in our presentations, sensationalism and the history of films like Jaws means some people continue to pass down inaccurate information from one generation to the next. This all points to the important role education plays in trying to help save our most important species from the dreadful fate it faces.

Shark Guardian back in Khao Lak

Shark Guardian returns to Thailand this week. We look forward to more presentations in Khao Lak, Phuket, Koh Lanta and Krabi over the coming weeks.

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