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Shark Guardian Family Coordinate Ethical Release of Captive Leopard Shark from Restaurant to the Wild.

Olivia, the daughter of Liz and Brendon (directors of Shark Guardian), made a heartbreaking discovery at the Barracuda Restaurant in Koh Lanta, Thailand: a leopard shark in captivity. 

Olivia Ward_sing, shark guardian directors; daughter.
Shark Guardian Heroine - Olivia Ward-Sing who Originally Spotted the Leopard Shark.

Olivia's encounter with the captive leopard shark at the restaurant instilled a profound sense of urgency in advocating for its release.  Sharks play a critical role as apex predators in marine ecosystems - setting such majestic creatures free is imperative.

Confined sharks often experience heightened stress levels, which can compromise their immune systems and overall health. Additionally, the limited space in captivity can lead to physical ailments such as muscle atrophy and deformities. Recognising these harmful consequences, it became imperative to advocate for the shark's release and return to its natural environment as soon as possible.

a leopard shark in captivity
The Leopard Shark in Captivity at the Restaurant.

Brendon and Liz engaged in dialogue with the restaurant owners, who had acquired the shark Christmas 2023 for a sum of 5000 baht (approx. £120). It was evident that such displays were intended to attract tourists, although this practice often discouraged potential patrons who were concerned about the welfare of marine life.

Subsequently, several meetings were held to address the situation. The Shark Guardian representatives were proposed to transport the shark in a cage to a dive site. However, prioritising the well-being of the animal, they deemed it safer and more ethical to release it directly into its natural habitat. They emphasised the potential stress and risks associated with transportation, advocating instead for allowing the shark to find its way to safety independently. In the local area, there are mangroves which are renowned as breeding grounds for sharks, Brendon and Liz were confident that it would instinctively navigate back to its' familiar surroundings. 

shark guardian directors releasing a shark
Brendon and Liz Releasing the Shark Back into the Wild

The Shark Guardian team took this opportunity to educate local communities and families on holiday about the importance of marine conservation and the ecological impact of such practices. Through their efforts, they aim to foster a deeper understanding of the marine ecosystem and encourage sustainable approaches to tourism and dining practices.

In a commendable gesture, Barracuda restaurant owners agreed to the release of the leopard shark without seeking financial reimbursement. Barracuda restaurant is renowned as one of the island's top seafood eateries, sourcing freshly caught local seafood and this gesture will ensure it's popularity continues.

Barracuda restaurant in Koh Lanta, Thailand who agreed to set the shark free.

This decision exemplifies a commitment to ethical stewardship and underscores the importance of collaborative efforts in safeguarding marine life.



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