“Protect the Fins” Campaign and its Impact on the Community
Environmental education workshop as part of the "Protect the Fins" campaign at Loma Linda School in Santa Cruz Island (Photo by: Beatríz Mariño)
Written by Daniela Vilema
We conclude with our campaign Protect the Fins and the Ocean Wins! Demonstrating that humans and sharks can coexist sustainably. After visiting all the schools in the archipelago and performing various activities with the local community, we have reached our goal!
During July, August and September we held environmental education workshops in all schools in Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela and Floreana. In total we worked with 1441 children between 9 and 12 years of age focusing on transmitting key messages about the importance of sharks and their conservation. In addition, we held four open fairs to the general public with the same objective and a field trip with children to observe sharks in order to learn and create a closer link with the sea through the experience in it. In addition, with the support of the Ministry of Culture - Galapagos Nucleus, a dance play was developed with their dance group of kids for the community.
Our shark ambassadors have been key in the activities carried out. Guillo the hammerhead, Vanessa the tiger shark, Ramona the whale shark, Ron the Galapagos shark and Pancho the blacktip have helped us to transmit messages about the anatomy of sharks, the ecological role they play in the ocean, the importance for tourism and the situation of sharks in the world. "Animals also feel like people do!", "We must protect sharks", "Sharks are important for the ocean and for people!", among others, were some of the comments of the students after watching the videos of our characters and attending the scheduled events. In addition, the presence of our characters at fairs open to the public allowed the community to become more familiar with these animals.
Through the respective assessments, we were able to show that many of the initial perceptions about sharks changed after the students received the information presented. The results reflect that the knowledge is directly associated to the perceptions that we have with respect to a subject, in this case, the sharks. If we know more about these animals and understand their importance then we will be concerned to support their conservation either directly or indirectly by generating behavior towards different species; remember that our attitude can generate great changes, so the following chart represents our possible future generation’s ambassadors.
Despite living in an archipelago surrounded by sharks, there are still people who have never seen or know very little about them. This is why an activity that cannot be missed if you live in Puerto Ayora or if you are visiting this place, is the observation of juvenile blacktip sharks in the passenger dock at night. This is one of the privileged places where sharks can be seen from very close swimming with other animals. Only through the knowledge and involvement of those who live in the Galapagos we can continue to be an example of coexistence and conservation of sharks for the world, so to make a link between the population and these close and important species is fundamental.
This campaign has been developed thanks to the support of the Save Our Seas Foundation and Lindblad-National Geographic.