Sharks play an essential rol in the health of our oceans


Shark attack survivors support shark conservation

Blacktip reef sharks in shallow waters, where most shark bites take place / © Peter Verhoog, Dutch Shark Society


When Debbie Salamone’s ankle was grabbed by a shark, her life changed forever. It  took months before she could walk more than a short distance. During recovery, Debbie sought answers. Why did nature turn against her?

Finally, she came to see that the shark was only been doing what came naturally to it and she was in his terrain – basically just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Most injuries are a result of mistaken identity; the shark mistook the person for its usual prey . Sharks are a part of a wondrous ecosystem, and Debbie realised she had to save this ultimate predator. And Debbie is not alone.  Shark attack survivors from around the globe have joined the Pew Environment Group’s effort to restore and conserve the world’s endangered shark populations.

 “If a group like us can see the value in saving sharks, shouldn’t everyone?” – Debbie Salamone


Debbie Salamone, survivor fighting to save sharks / © Pew Foundation

The group consists of Debbie Salamone, Achmat Hassiem, Mike Coots, Krishna Thompson, Chuck Anderson, Laurie Boyett, Kent Bonde, Scott Curatolo-Wagemann, Paul de Gelder, Al Brenneka, Mike Beach, and Michelle “Micki” Glenn, and is organized by Debbie, who obtained a master’s degree in environmental sciences and policy and left her newspaper job to join the Pew Environment Group to save sharks. Other members come from the United States, Europe, Australia, and South Africa.
When the Dutch Shark Society enquired about the work of the group, now and in future, Debbie stated:

Sharks present a public relations challenge because they are not seen as sympathetic, cuddly creatures. Yet they are much more vulnerable than they look. That is a huge challenge for us – to let people know that sharks have more to fear from us than we do from them. Shark attacks/bites are extremely rare – just an average of about 70 a year worldwide. Yet about 100 million sharks are killed annually.  By having shark attack survivors speak up for sharks, we are using the best spokespeople on the planet to deliver this information so that leaders around the globe will see the urgency of protecting these critically important animals.

Unfortunately the U.S. government is now crafting rules to implement the Shark Conservation Act, which closed loopholes in the U.S. shark finning ban, but those rules are a step backward. The rules could end up overriding stricter shark conservation measures adopted by some individual U.S. territories and states, such as Hawaii, which was the first state to criminalize the sale, trade and possession of shark fins. The survivors are working for better rules so the original intent of the Act is honored. So that is what we are working on now.”

You can read Debbie’s fascinating story here.

The moving, personal statements of these wonderful shark advocates can be watched here:



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