Last Week the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation organized its second successful Shark Week event as part of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance ‘Save our Sharks’ project funded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery.
St. Maarten Shark day was organized in order to change the perception of people about sharks. Often sharks are incorrectly displayed as villains and as being dangerous but they are actually the victims with many species threatened with extinction through humans poaching, finning, overfishing and coastal development activities. Worldwide over 100 million sharks are killed per year; as a result half of all shark species are threatened with extinction. We depend on our sharks as we depend on our oceans, sharks, as top predators; play a crucial role in maintaining balance and health within our oceans.
On the 3rd of June the Foundation had a very well attended Shark day for children at Buccaneer Beach Bar, with almost 100 kids showing up to learn about sharks and to test their knowledge by playing the Nature Foundation developed shark game! The kids had a lot of fun by colourings, making booklets and amazing shark face paintings. Children learned about St. Maarten shark species, why sharks are not frightening or dangerous and the importance of sharks to the environment.
People often think that sharks eat people. This is a misunderstanding, humans are not on the menu for sharks and sharks do not eat people. Occasionally shark bites do happen, however no unprovoked attack has been ever recorded on St. Maarten. It is more likely that you get killed by a coconut falling on your head than being bitten by a shark.
At night the Nature Foundation continued with a shark party to celebrate sharks and showcase the shark research and tagging done on St Maarten. The crowd found the presentations on shark science very interesting and the public was amazed by the shark movement patterns. Jörgen Raymman, ‘Save our sharks’ ambassador and famous Dutch Comedian, joined the shark party and spoke about the importance of sharks and his passion for these amazing creatures.
During Shark Day, Buccaneer Beach Bar did not provide environmentally damaging plastic straws and used recyclable cups in order to decrease the plastic input into the environment. The Nature Foundation is very happy with their environmental concerns and hopes many bars and restaurants are following their example. Way too much plastic is ending up in our oceans and threatens marine life such as sea turtles and sea birds.
The Nature Foundation would like to thank all participants and volunteers during the event; due to them it became a great success. We are very looking forward to shark week 2018.