Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Well blow me down and shiver me timbers! ANOTHER salty revolution around the sun has come and gone and we now finally find ourselves at SEA aboard the Shark Ark!! What a year full of revolutions it was!! Thanks for all the birthday well wishes for myself and our upcoming Shark Ark voyage to help out our favourite toothy fishes. Upon reflection I can sincerely say it was THE greatest year of my life and I owe it all to you inspirational ocean lovers! It was QUITE a busy year!

I quit my job not once but twice to organise what turned out to be record breaking shark conservation protests upon our fair West Aussie shores!

Shark lovers as far as the eye could see on Cottesloe beach.
Shark lovers as far as the eye could see on Cottesloe beach.

The adrenalin rush of organising these events with Natalie Banks from Sea Shepherd and No WA Shark Cull was highly addictive! To put your “feelings” and “instinct” before your income and the bills that have to be paid is indeed a liberating and (ahem) terrifying experience.  But the universe somehow provides..When you realise what you stand for, that your prepared to suffer the slings and arrows of others for what you believe is the greater good, it’s like a fog is wiped away from your vision. It becomes clear. Life is too short for complacency. And without any doubt in my mind, the battle for our finned friends on our shores and around the globe, is a battle for life. Yes the life of our sharks, but so much more than that. Without the sharks, our oceans die. Without our oceans, humanity dies. Our children deserve a better legacy.

2015 is the 38th year of my life. The one guarantee I have in this life is my own mortality.. Statistically, in Australia if I make it to eighty years of age that is a great innings!! That means that not counting this one, I have at MOST forty two summers left on this beautiful planet.. This is the year I have decided that I will stop talking about it, stop wasting those precious summers and instead become the change I want to see like so so many of you did on Feb 4th, 2014 on Cottesloe beach. It was a turning point in Australian history and one summer I sure am proud to be a part of!

Shark Protectors on Cottesloe Beach Feb 4th 2014
Shark Protectors on Cottesloe Beach Feb 4th 2014

On Feb the 4th, 2014, close to eight THOUSAND West Aussies stood up to Premier Barnett, our states biggest bully. Shoulder to shoulder on Cottesloe beach we made history when we forced a government full of school yard thugs and corporate elite to back down. We broke records with over twenty THOUSAND submissions to the EPA.  Senator Scott Ludlum who spoke at our rallies and joined our events credited our movement with creating the largest Green Party vote in Australian history.. You guys did that! This movement has NEVER been about politics but instead, about bad policy. Barnett was shown that indisputably by the multitude of difference represented in the thousands of everyday Aussies that travelled from every suburb and state that day to make sure their voice was heard for the sharks. To ignore our voice would have been political suicide.  Barnett backed down. We WON that battle. That day changed my life. YOU guys who stood with us that day, changed the course of Australian marine conservation forever and gave our crew at the Shark Ark project real direction. We know how to set our sails now and what we must do. We must take you with us.

Our aim here aboard the Shark Ark and the changes we want to see are fourfold and involves you guys in every aspect of it.

1) To provide a marine research vessel free of charge to marine biologists for independent marine science research around the isolated, largely unstudied, North coastal regions of Australia which will be kept afloat with your help by a crew of nature loving volunteers.

2) To encourage community engagement in local marine conservation using modern “smart” technology and help increase the data we have for baseline population figures for sharks in previously un-researched waters.

3) To create marine breeding sanctuaries for shark species under pressure.

and

4) To end the use of drum lines and nets as shark safety mitigation tools in Australian waters and world wide

The horrific reality of the dumline program hits home to West Aussies as a pregnant female Tiger Shark is hauled aboard to be killed.
The horrific reality of the dumline program hits home to West Aussies as a pregnant female Tiger Shark is hauled aboard to be killed.

Several things happened after the success of our rallies that got us to where we are now, mere days away from starting our studies aboard our shark research vessel dream…

Firstly..I proposed to my favourite mermaid, with an engagement ring I made out of fishing line.  My beautiful, patient, adventure and shark loving fiancé Marielle,  during a voyage off Monkey Mia. Not long after that we received a handwritten letter from Sir David Attenborough which caused a minor joy filled meltdown in my kitchen!! I  then met and became mates with Jeff Hansen from Sea Shepherd and Patrick Pearlman from the Environmental Defenders office whose professionalism and passion inspired me to take our conservation dreams to a new level! If you haven’t donated to either of these organisations then PLEASE do.  Every dollar counts. The work they do is at the FRONTLINE of protecting the last of our great wilderness areas.

Shayne Thompson (the mastermind behind the RedBroome meme machine) and I got together and formed FINN films. A film production company focused on maritime history and marine conservation stories.  We started filming and interviewing for “400 Years of FEAR”, a documentary that tells the story of the European relationship with our finned friends compared to the indigenous relationship since the Dutch stepped on our shores in 1616 at Dirk Hartog island in Shark Bay.

BlackBill

We got together again with Natalie Banks and took over Perth Town Hall for its first ever SHARK AID Short Film Fest and received amazing short sharky films from all over Australia and the world.  I took Nat to Shark Bay and sat her down in crystal clear, waist deep water next to the blood red cliffs where the desert meets the sea to show her my childhood friends, the Bay whaler schools.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

We watched in joy as the breeding schools of sharks swam gently around her ankles, they had come to meet the lady who had done more for their conservation than every other conservationist put together in our history.. She had unwittingly, following her instinct, started a movement.  She bought us all together to fight this battle. A network of shark lovers and ocean conservationist no longer prepared to listen to the endless fear mongering of the media and local ego driven politicians..

Natalie Banks rallying the troops at the Feb 4th Cottesloe protest.
Natalie Banks rallying the troops at the Feb 4th Cottesloe protest.

And of course.. a few months ago.. we bought the dream. The Shark Ark went from being a concept to a very real reality! In two weeks from now, we will be ready for sea trials… Shortly after that the voyage will begin in earnest for the first time. As I said on the beach in front of ALL of you at our record breaking shark rally in Cottesloe, you are ALL welcome aboard…just not at the same time ;b

This vessel is yours. It belongs to all Australians and Shark Bay Western Australia is her home port! We, as private citizens, want to give back to a marine science community that is so short of funding at the moment. Funding that our government squanders daily by spending millions of taxpayers dollars hunting and killing the one animal that more than any others keeps our oceans and our planet alive whilst ignoring the non lethal technology based alternatives and public education programs the wider community is crying out for.

We are setting sail in May, 2015, as ambassadors for an INTERNATIONAL Citizen Science based research program conceived by Dr Ryan Kempster from UWA’s marine neuroecology department. YOU can get involved right now by clicking on this link and helping us fill in the gaps in our shark population and migration knowledge. Its as simple as sending a photo from your phone of a shark you saw recently and your location when you took the photo!! You don’t even have to know what species it is! Our scientists will work that out for you and contribute your information under YOUR name to a global database designed at giving us a WORLD FIRST, geographically specific, accurate population density figure for our beloved sharks. YOU could be the reason sharks in your hometown get protected. Not a bad legacy to leave our planet!

http://shark-base.org/

During our voyage we will be recording our sightings of sharks in waters where our shark knowledge is in some cases non-existent and holding public forums to educate people how they can get involved in shark conservation in their own communities. We will be at the cutting edge of conservation based science in Australia and we are taking you with us! The people who inspired us to take a leap of faith and live our dream. Keep an eye on our FB page and website www.SharkArkProject.com to see how you can join the Shark Ark Crew on this voyage of a lifetime.

We are also spreading our wings to include research involving the most venomous reptile in the world and a personal favourite of mine the much misunderstood sea snake! Our crew will be on the look out from the decks of the Shark Ark for sea snakes whose migrations and populations have never been studied before in our Northern waters.

gallery08
Our nature loving volunteers of all ages will be keeping a sharp lookout for all manner of marine critters to help boost our world marine science database and create sanctuaries.

Shark Ark is collecting sea snake sighting records over five thousand miles of as yet un-researched Aussie coastline for Blanche D’Anastasi who is a PhD candidate studying the ecology and connectivity of Australia’s true sea snakes at James Cook University’.

All this because of YOU guys! The Shark Protectors who stood together on Feb 4th and decided to become the change our oceans so desperately need! If you know a research program around the Australian coastline that we can help to collect their data then don’t hesitate to contact us! This project is for you and YOUR backyard! If you have a school hall, a RSL, a footy club in your town where you would like us to hold our FREE Shark Ark Short Film festival so you and your kids, our planets future, can learn more about living in harmony with our oceans apex predator then don’t hesitate to drop us a line. If you would like to donate to our fuel fund to help get us to your town and keep our researchers fed we would also be very grateful! Our Go Fund Me site is

http://www.sharkarkproject.com/fundraising/

We are due to set sail from Albany to Rottnest around the 10th of May and have crew positions available for the Rottnest to Monkey Mia leg and further north to Coral Bay and beyond but spots are filling fast!

Email leondeschampssharkark@hotmail.com for more details or drop us a line on our FB page “Shark Bay Shark Ark Project”!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shark-Bay-Shark-Ark-Project/357816320914510?ref=hl

Welcome Aboard!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>