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The Shark Ark Project is an independent, privately funded conservation project. Our aim is to provide and maintain a Shark research vessel that will be FREE of charge for Australian Marine Biologists to use as a mother ship for marine science projects in Western Australia. It is also our dream that this marine research will help create shark marine sanctuaries within the breeding nurseries of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area and maybe.. with YOUR help, in your backyard as well!

My name is Leon Deschamps, the founder of the Shark Ark Project. I am one of the many involved in this project who hope to give you a appreciation of the local sharks on your own reefs and bays around your home. The people involved in this project do not “tame” sharks, or claim to have any unique affinity with them, but have a passion for understanding more about the most vilified and misunderstood animal in our oceans and encouraging you to do the same.

It is important to us that you always remember that they are wild animals and as such should be treated with respect. My family dog would quite happily eat me if he was hungry enough 🙂 Yet we respect and have the most fulfilling and rewarding relationships with these loveable potential killers.  We DO NOT encourage touching or riding sharks in the wild. We are not Seaworld and sharks are not objects to be used for our personal entertainment. We get our love and respect for sharks just by being in the water with them and seeing them alive and healthy doing their job of keeping our oceans and subsequently us humans alive and healthy as well.

Sharks feeding and predation habits are highly specialised and unique to the individual species. In over 99% of the hugely varied species of shark, the predisposition (and necessary enamel equipment) for an occasional nibble on a human is non-existent. Many look nothing like our minds eyes image of the danger in the deep! Pictured below is one of my personal favourites, the Ghost Shark.. cute isn’t he?? 🙂

Ghost Shark

Yet they are constantly lumped together into one amorphous (Hollywood shaped) mass and reviled uniformly. Through sharing our (and your) personal stories, photos and experiences with these majestic species, promoting education, understanding and respect, we are hoping to help change this.

I am born and bred in Shark Bay, Western Australia and ran Shark Bay Shark Safaris for six years, before starting the Shark Ark Project.  A project committed to helping promote the conservation of Shark Bays World Heritage Values.

We have recently purchased the fifty foot Samson Motorsailor the “Bold Venture” and have openings for crew who want to join our marine science adventures and sail the coast of Australia starting in January 2015. Interested?? Contact us today and explain why you think you would make a good crew member. Who knows you could be anchored off a remote island, snorkelling unexplored coral reefs soon. Sailing experience is not necessary but is valued.

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Shark Bay is the home of many MANY species of sharks but the most majestic variety which was discovered right here in 1699 is the Tiger Shark and it is around them that we focus our studies. The 400th anniversary of the first recorded European landing in Australia will be celebrated in Shark Bay in 2016. This commemorates Dirk Hartogs landing at Turtle Bay which created a maritime super highway from all the corners of the globe to our Western shores. On our voyages around Australia and beyond, we will also be paying homage to those giants of Science, those tall ship adventurers who blazed the trail for the birth of marine science and conservation in Australia and the Western world in our upcoming documentary “400 Years of Fear”.

MirandaI have been employed as a Shark consultant and naturalist guide by the World Wildlife Federation, The Australian Wilderness Conservatorium, The World Heritage Consultative Committee, The Department of Environment and Conservation and most recently as Emergency Response Team to Seafolly Australia’s multimillion dollar bikini shoot on the shores of Shark Bay with Aussie super model Miranda Kerr. (There were a damn site more sharks in the local pub she needed to worry about than in our pristine waters 😉 )

A proud moment was perhaps in 2009 when we were featured in French National Geographic in an article that praised our conservation ethic. Renowned Aussie artist, Trent Parke shot a portrait for the article of me and my mongrel mutt, first mate and best mate, “Terry” who passed away this year after thirteen years of salt filled adventure.

My Firstmate..and BEST mate, Captain Terry McButt-kiss
My Firstmate..and BEST mate, Captain Terry McButt-kiss

Miss ya heaps buddy.. For visitors to our country, the portrait of Terry and I, now hangs on permanent display in the Australian Museum of Contemporary Art in Circular Quay, Sydney, in their portrait section.

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By protecting the oceans apex predator, we subsequently must protect every other organism in and around Shark Bay, as our effect on them directly impacts the sharks. This is why we have created the Shark Ark Project. It is a shark conservation dream shared by Aussie and international scientists, amateur and professional fisherman, students, activists and passionate shark lovers from around the globe.

Shark Bay from Space

Shark Bay pictured from space aboard the Endeavour space shuttle!

We look forward to welcoming you aboard!

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