Shark Guardian started their Hong Kong tour on the 20th of May 2013 with a presentation to the upper school at Kellet International School. Over the following 2 weeks more than 1000 children and adults saw the presentation which was specifically taylored to the Hong Kong audience.
With 50 - 80% of the world's shark fins passing through Hong Kong, Shark Guardian targetted the schools here at this time to try and get the younger generations to care about sharks, understand them better and get involved in their protection and ultimately their survival. Since some shark attacks in the 1990's their reputation throughout Hong Kong has been poor, meaning any sightings cause a massive stir. Just a few weeks before our arrival a small sand bar shark sighting caused a huge over-reaction!! We hope that with education, this kind of sighting will be seen as a good thing, especially since Hong Kong waters have the potential to be fruitful, particularly since the dredging ban at the start of this year.
Brendon was keen to return to his Hong Kong roots (his dad's family are originally from Hong Kong) and Liz was excited about visiting a new country. Such a fantastic time was had, with amazing responses from all the schools and Shark guardian supporters, both new and old, helping to make their stay productive and enjoyable.
The students gave Shark Guardian a really warm reception wherever we went. After Kellet we visited Creative Secondary school to take part in a 'Making a difference' lesson where teacher and librarian Nick Holywell hoped we could inspire the children. Some fantastic ideas were presented by the students after Liz and Brendon used their unusual choice of career to demonstrate that anyone can make a difference in this world, no matter how small you start!
The Year 2 children at Bradbury were so excited during the introduction of their presentation and this didn't stop throughout the rest of the talk! Even a fire drill didn't dampen their spirits and the session concluded with some interesting questions. Finally the German Swiss school rounded off week 1 with the children giving Liz and Brendon a superstar welcome. We most definitely feel the 80 strong audience from this school are now on a shark saving mission!
Week 2 began with a classroom full of eager year 10's at the French International.A wonderful presentation with the children engaged throughout and some really thoughtful questions and discussions were promoted afterwards. Then St pauls Co-Ed college hosted us the following morning. Despite only a 25 minute slot in the upper school assembly, the messages were well received. A return to Creative for the main presentation mid week was again lots of fun for Shark Guardian. Staff from the Hong Kong Shark Foundation enjoyed watching as did our new friend from Eco-Marine, Paul Whitehead, who will shortly join our forces as a Shark Guardian leader.
The week rounded off at the new Harrow school on Thursday evening where the upper school boarders enjoyed the presentation and the teachers were impressed with the scope and content. And finally the Korean school finished the week and tour for Brendon and Liz. Two sessions of excited children, the secondary students in the morning and then the primary in the afternoon - another 200+ children on board for our campaign!
A special thanks goes to Nick Holywell from Creative who emailed his colleagues in the Library network, resulting in several of our presentations. And also to him and his wife Kate who hosted us during our stay in Hong Kong - we could not have had better people showing us around and making our stay as easy as possible.
We also thank Alex Hofford (WEB) for donating 'Man and Shark' books which he wrote with Paul Hilton. A beautiful book with stunning (and often gruesome) pictures, showing the full picture of a sharks journey from ocean to bowl of soup. By giving a book to each school library we have encouraged students to learn more about our subject, plus other students who did not see the presentation get an insight in to the massive industry of shark finning. Check out his video or find our more information on our website.
Time now for Shark Guardian to return to Thailand, for more follow up school sessions, diving programs and planning for tours later in the year in Jakarta and the UK.