Disclaimer: The views, actions and activities posted by participants on My Ocean are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Project AWARE Foundation.
- Sara Brenes
25.482951, -82.265625 View on map
- Member Type
- My Website
- My Summary
Hi, my name is Sara Brenes and I have recently been appointed as the Youth Leadership Ambassador for Shark Savers. Following you will find more information about me and what I am trying to accomplish. Some of you I know, and some of you I am looking forward to getting to know you. I am a tenth grade honor roll student at Boca Raton Preparatory School in Boca Raton, Florida, and I am sixteen years old. I am also the Treasurer for my schools Student Government and a member of the Ecology Club. I am an avid shark lover and diver. I have loved Sharks from a very young age. My mom tells me that she let me loose in a bookstore when I was four and I came back with books on sharks and it has been that way ever since. Even though I was fascinated by them and loved them, I did not know that they were in trouble until watching the movie "Sharkwater”, my family and I came out crying from the theater and that was the moment for me that I decided to dedicate myself to doing anything and everything that I can to teach people the truth about sharks and try to get everyone to join in to save them from becoming extinct. I started thinking about a website I could create to get people to go to so they could learn more. Originally, I had come up with the term SOS – short for Save our Sharks, but that was taken. Then, on my first shark dive with Captain Slate in Key Largo, the name was sort of chosen for me. When I was under the water with those sharks I was in love. I was holding them and petting them and kissing them (on the back) and they stayed near me, I believe that they could feel that I loved them and that is why they stayed near me. When we got back on the boat, there was a woman that had been diving with us from California and she told me that she had never seen sharks “like” someone and stay near someone like that before and then she said to me that I was like a “Shark Whisperer”, and the name stuck. Fast forward and I created and founded the Shark Whisperer Organization. A non- profit (no salaries to anyone, by the way) that is dedicated to Shark Advocacy. My main focus is reaching out to people and educating them about what is going on with sharks, why they are important and how they can get involved and help out too. You would be surprised by the reactions I get, people are shocked and most people do want to help out. My first public appearance with a dedicated fundraising table for Shark Whisperer was at the Wyland Organic Green Festival in Boca Raton at Mizner Park. I was able to raise $240.00 through the sales of Shark toy squirters, my Shark Whisperer bracelets, shark gummies and Raffle Ticket sales for a watch which was donated to me by my dad. I also make shark chocolate lollipops, shark cupcakes and shark brownies. I plan on donating the money I raised to Shark Savers, I would like to wait until I have a grand total of $1,000.00 so I can do a big presentation check. On my table I displayed Shark Savers brochures and passed them out and I also spoke to people about what was going on with Sharks. It was so cute when one little girl came up to me and said “Do you really talk to sharks?”. I also collected over 450 signatures for the petition for the FWC to ban Hammerheads and Tigers from being caught in Florida waters. I had previously collected over 150 signatures by going door to door in my neighborhood and asking people at my school and my mom and dad’s work friends to sign petitions too. I presented the first 150 at the FWC meeting at the IGFA in Dania Beach where I met Dr. Gruber. The next batch of signatures, over 450, I presented in person as well at the final hearing of the FWC in Key Largo where I also spoke to the panel about my feelings about sharks and why I was in favor of the ban.
I make a point of doing shark dives as often as I can to prove to people that sharks are not the man eaters that they are portrayed as. I have been diving with sharks in Key Largo, Fiji, Australia, in Epcot and the Bahamas. In October I will be cage diving with Great Whites in Guadalupe.
Right now I am involved with a program called YEA – which stands for Young Entrepreneurs Academy and it is a college program at FAU and it is teaching me how to make my charity even better. I attend the class for 33 weeks total every Monday from 5:00 – 8:00. The main reason I wanted to do the program was because at the end of the program each student is given an opportunity to present their ideas in front of a panel of investors and they have $30,000.00 available to give to the students. I have written up a business plan and I am in the middle of making a PowerPoint presentation to present to the investors. I am asking for a total of $24,000.00. $6,000.00 to each of the following: Shark Savers, RJ Dunlap Marine Foundation (University of Miami), Dr. Gruber and FAU Elasmobranches. Please keep your fingers crossed that I am awarded the funds to distribute. The presentation is being made April 17th.
I am also an active member of the Sea Scouts program and I have been appointed the conservation officer for the group. I am also on the outreach educational team for Shark Diver Magazine. On April 14th my charity was chosen to be the recipient of donations for an arts and crafts show in the Coconut Creek community and I will have a display booth there as well and I hope to be raising money and educating the public once again.
I just recently attended the Florida Keys Community College Shark Expo and I was able to meet and dive with Fabien Cousteau on the Vandenberg wreck in Key West. At the dive event they had a contest for one winner to win a week long live aboard cruise with Blackbeard’s in the Bahamas, and I won!! I am going March 10th. At the expo I was able to raise $160.00 from sales of cupcakes, brownies, lollipops and bracelets in just a few hours and I donated the entire amount to the FKCC foundation.
The thing I am most excited about right now is that my school is allowing me to do a “Shark Week”. I read an article that there was a bunch of schools in California that did an educational Shark Week program where they educated kids about sharks and it spread to many different schools in the district. I am trying to do that here too. My goal is to reach Palm Beach, Broward, Dade and Monroe counties in South Florida with this program. I am going to write a manual on how I did it so that I can share it with the other schools and I will document everything with video as well. I am hoping that I can pass it along so that I can educate as many people as possible to help save sharks, my mission. As part of the Shark Week program we are going to set a goal of raising $3,000.00 to purchase shark tags. Imagine if we are able to get this momentum going?
I have applied to College Academy at Broward College in Davie to see if I can enter their dual enrollment program so that I can graduate out of high school with my AA degree and then on to University where my ultimate goal is to earn my PhD in Marine Biology with a specialty focus on Shark Biology. Right now I am doing an internship with a local dive shop and I am working towards my Scuba instructor’s license and later this year, I will be learning how to fly amphibious ultra light aircraft so that I can spot sharks from the air as well. I just finished taking my Underwater photography course which I loved and I was inspired by Mr. Stan Waterman.
I have also been taken up flying to spot sharks with Dr. Kajuri of FAU and Austin Gallagher with University of Miami plans on taking me out shark tagging sometime in the near future. My next shark dive is with Lemon sharks in Palm Beach this coming weekend.