Shark ‘Superhero’ Brendon Sing Talks About Conservation

Posted on  05/05/2011  |  Media Centre

Written by Borneo Bulletin
Thursday, 05 May 2011 07:04

Q&A with the Shark Guardian Mr Brendon Sing, Speaker on Marine Biodiversity at the National Environment Conference 2011 in collaboration with ISB.
Q: Tell us about what you do? What kinds of projects are you working on?

A: As a profession, I am a recreational scuba diving Instructor Trainer, a deep mixed gas technical diving Instructor Trainer and work with dive shops and resorts in both Thailand and Indonesia.

What I have been doing since 1998 is teaching people about shark awareness.

In 20101 created the Shark Guardian organisation that uses digital presentations about shark conservation.

The Shark Guardian presentation is used as an educational tool about sharks presented to International schools, Eco resorts, hotels, dive centres and resorts, the general public, other NGOs and environmental leaders.

Q: How did your passion for sharks come about? What led you to establish Shark Guardian? A: My passion for sharks started at an early age while living in South Africa.

When I went on trips to the local aquariums I would spend 99 per cent of the time observing only sharks.

At 17 years old I started scuba diving, which allowed me to get even closer to these creatures.

Naturally in university I started to study sharks and get involved with many field projects such as shark tagging, personal identifications, migration patterns and behaviour study.

Most people are afraid of sharks and therefore don’t understand their importance in the ecosystem and why we should take action to protect them.

For this reason I turned from studying sharks, to promoting shark awareness, which ultimately led to Shark Guardian in 2010. Q: You have been an avid diver since 1996.

Tell us about the underwater world and how climate change has been affecting marine life? A: Ever wondered why we call this planet “EARTH” when 70 per cent of the surface is covered by water? Life on the planet started in the ocean.

Coral reefs cover less than 0.1 per cent of the ocean bottom yet it is the nursery ground to 25 per cent of known marine species and home to 33 per cent of known fish species.

The primary observation that has been noticed with regards to the underwater world is the continuing decline of marine life on our reefs year after year.

Especially over the last two – three years, we have noticed a decline in our pelagic species (manta rays, whale sharks, tuna…etc) in ‘ Thailand.

I have personally noticed the effects of climate change on reefs in Thailand.

This year we have seen much coral bleaching and algae growth more than ever before.

Climate change is real and we are seeing the effects of it Q: What is the’most urgent action that we should undertake on the environment right now? A: In my own opinion there are so many issues to deal with that there is no single action needed.

We need a combined, strategic plan to effectively move towards a better environmental future.

We need to protect more of our marine ecosystems and reefs by establishing more protected marine sanctuaries.

The possession, trade, sale and finning of sharks must be made illegal internationally.

Educate new and old generations about pollution, over fishing and the effects that we have on our environment and how to reduce these.

Q: Can you tell us more about sharks? What can be done to help them? A: Some of the earliest sharks existed over 400 million years ago.

They have survived the extinction.of the dinosaurs and the sharks that we see today have not changed much in the last 200 million years! The shark is the apex predator of the worlds’ oceans.

They are a natural barometer for the health of the oceans and are there to protect the integrity of other fish species populations to maintain a healthy balance in the ecosystem.

They remove the weak, injured, dying or dead creatures in the ocean to maintain a strong functioning marine ecosystem.

In some areas now where shark populations have been depleted we are seeing natural consequences such as population explosions of, seals, smaller shark species and jellyfish.

With this balance shifting it is having damaging effects on our reefs and fisheries.

To help sharks people need to get involved! Do not rely only on governments and organisations to do all the work that we all should care about, especially regarding the health of our oceans, ecosystems and natural resources.

You need to actively participate.

Encourage friends and family not to eat shark fin soup and why! A study given by the shark protection organisation Shark project proved that there is up to 1400 microgramme of methyl mercury per kilogramme in blue shark steak.

This is 60 times more than a 70kg human should consume per day since methyl mercury is very dangerous for the human body.

The danger value is 0.1 microgramme per kilogramme body weight and day.

Sign petitions; create your own presentations and projects to promote shark conservation at your work, schools, clubs; write letters to hotels, restaurants, wedding and function organisers and airlines that serve shark fin soup explaining the dangers of consuming shark meat, as well as the negative impact on the ecosystem. Q: What do you aim to achieve in the next five years? A: We hope that within the next five years organisations like Shark Guardian won’t be needed any longer if shark finning, the sale and possession thereof is completely banned internationally and shark sanctuaries are established and enforced in all coastal countries.

We also hope to produce a DVD that will be used as a pro shark conservation and educational tool, distributed to all Asian schools; continue presenting Shark Guardian internationally; create shark educational courses and activities for schools and the general public and use Shark Guardian to help create shark sanctuaries internationally.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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