Last year, on July 13th 2019, the Galapagos Science Center (GSC) hosted their Annual Shark Day in the warm sun, with approximately 150 local community members in attendance. Shark Day provides the community with a variety of activities focused on improving empathy with marine species, especially sharks!
This year Shark Awareness Day is July 14, 2020 and, in light of COVID-19, this popular in-person event has been reinvented to a virtual format. The GSC created and shared valuable resources with the community regarding sharks, their importance to the environment, and the cutting-edge research our own researchers at the Galapagos Science Center continue to do.
Instead of a one day event, July 13th – 19th marks Shark Week, with a variety of virtual educational opportunities surrounding – you guessed it – sensational sharks! Many activities are aimed at engaging children and revolve around Marti the Hammerhead Shark – based on the children’s book of the same name that was created through a partnership with the GSC and the Galapagos Conservation Trust. Since the book was published the GSC has delivered 12 educational sessions in schools on San Cristobal island and developed a range of educational activities in English and Spanish to further engage children internationally in shark conservation.
One GSC researcher in particular has dedicated much of his career to working with these incredibly misunderstood animals. Alex Hearn has worked in the Galapagos Islands since 2002 on fisheries research and management, and spearheaded the development of the Shark Research Program for the Galapagos Marine Reserve since 2006. His current projects include using acoustic and satellite telemetry to establish the migratory pathways of sharks, evaluating the movement ecology of the pelagic assemblage around oceanic islets, and monitoring shark nursery grounds in the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
We all hope that Annual Shark Day in 2021 will be in person and an even bigger community success! In the meantime, we are excited to share resources during Shark Week that hopefully educates broadly and even creates a new generation of shark lovers.
“Sharks are among the top predators of the oceans. They have inhabited our planet for over 400 million years and are drivers of natural selection. However, in recent years they have suffered sharp declines due to overfishing and increased demand for their fins. The Galapagos Marine Reserve is one of the last remaining places on earth where large schools of several shark species can be found. Our work is focused on trying to understand the role that Galapagos and other oceanic islands play for these species, and how these islands connect different populations. Our team works with adult and juvenile sharks throughout the reserve.”
— Alex Hearn, Adjunct Professor (Biology, UNC – Chapel Hill) and Professor, School of Biological and Environmental Sciences (USFQ)