I’ve been fascinated by sharks for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I was intrigued by the world around me; I loved getting lost in National Geographic magazines, reading books about wildlife and watching documentaries of explorers and conservationists. The world seemed so big, and I wanted to see it all.
Ocean exploration seemed to fascinate me the most, and I was especially drawn to sharks. They just seemed so cool, and so misunderstood. I was obsessed. I looked forward to watching Shark Week. I had shark toys, and a stuffed sharked named Sharkie that I took everywhere. Very original name, I know. I even had a favorite hockey team, the San Jose Sharks. I’m still a huge fan, even though we have yet to see a Stanley Cup. I always looked forward to visiting the aquarium exhibits and watching the sharks. They didn’t look like the predators they were made out to be at all! I dreamed that one day I would get the experience to swim alongside them.
Sharks are in danger, and many species are facing the threat of extinction due to finning, overfishing, and habitat loss due to climate change. They also have an extremely bad reputation, due to film and media demonization.
Did you know that the majority of shark attacks are due to mistaken identity? Did you know that most sharks actually try to avoid contact with humans? Did you know that humans are way more dangerous to sharks, than sharks will ever be to humans?
Sharks need our help. They are not the human-hunting predators that the media has made them out to be. They are nothing to be feared. In fact, they are extremely vital to our ecosystem. These apex predators help balance the marine ecosystem by keeping their prey populations at certain numbers. Without sharks, the numbers of these species would be significantly higher, and lead to a shortage in marine resources. Sharks are imperative to keeping ocean life in balance.
It’s time humans start helping sharks. But how can we start? The best thing we can do is to get educated on how important they truly are. Speak up, and share your knowledge with others. Another way you can help is to eat sustainably-sourced seafood, and avoid shark fin soup. When you travel, make sure to go with companies that are committed to ocean conservation and don’t disturb shark habitats. Also, avoiding single-use plastics and recycling helps to keep trash out of the ocean.
I feel the best way to get educated is by hands-on experience.
One Ocean Diving is committed to educating the public about sharks and conservation through hands-on experience. They offer freediving and snorkeling encounters with the local pelagic shark populations to shatter the stereotypes and promote conservation.
Located in Oahu’s North Shore, One Ocean Diving offers charters every day, weather permitting. I highly recommend going in the morning to get calm conditions. They keep the group size pretty small, which is great because it allows everyone time to swim alongside their safety divers to get a shark encounter. Once we were all on the boat, we got to learn about the local shark species and safety procedures. I was extremely impressed by their knowledge, passion for shark conservation and commitment to safety.
Once were arrived at the dive location, we were able to see sharks below us. They were curious, and some even swam up to the boat. Their energy was contagious, and I was ready to get in the water.
Freediving alongside these sharks was magical. I can’t even describe it. They were so graceful, and I never once felt threatened. In fact, they seemed completely unbothered by me. It was like I wasn’t even there. During my dives I saw Galapagos sharks, sandbar sharks, and even a hammerhead shark.
Before I knew it, I was back on the boat and headed towards Haleiwa. We discussed our encounters and what we learned about sharks from the experience. We talked about ways we can make a difference to help sharks from threats of extinction and habitat loss.
I left inspired to make a difference in conservation.
This experience showed me how disconnected we have become from nature, and how important education and excursions like this truly are. I believe that we can all contribute to a better tomorrow. Humans have damaged the environment and wildlife species for far too long. It’s time we turn it around. It’s time to speak up. It’s time to make a difference. And it doesn’t have to be a huge one. It could be something as simple as sharing information, being mindful of waste or refusing to eat products containing sharks. Every little effort truly counts.
Founder and main contributor to This Adventure Life, Kirsten Alexis has passion for all things adventure and the outdoors. She is an avid participant in action sports, such as skydiving, paragliding, snowboarding, high-altitude trekking, mountain biking, surfing and more. She is passionate about inspiring others to live their wildest dreams as well as conserving the environment for others to enjoy for years to come.