6 shark conservation groups to get involved with this summer

We recently received a request from one of our readers whose son, Maximus, was turning seven years old: “My son who is turning seven soon, and in lieu of birthday presents he is requesting donations from his friends for shark conservation,” she wrote. “Can you recommend a group that is worthy for us to donate to?”

Pretty cool, right? It’s great to see the youth of today forgoing Legos, a super soaker or a trampoline to help in stopping the killing of around 100 million sharks each year.

RELATED: These 5 shark stories captured our attention

So, for Maximus and all the other the seven-year-olds (and their moms) out there who just found out that Toys R Us just won’t cut it (or anyone else out there caught up in Shark Week) here’s some of the best shark conservation groups that need your help.

Project AWARE Foundation

You'd certainly be aware if you saw this. Photo by Project AWARE
You’d certainly be aware if you saw this. Photo: Courtesy of Project AWARE
For 20 year now the Project AWARE Foundation has been a growing movement of scuba divers that have been protecting the ocean plane.

The organization aims to mobilize divers to help stem the threat from two major ocean issues — shark conservation and marine debris. They give divers tools to boost dive plans to protect the ocean with helpful online tools and resources, start online petitions that influence global environmental policies and providing online data collection systems for gathering key data about the state of the oceans.

Shark Friendly Marinas

The Shark Friendly Marinas Initiative’s singular purpose is to reduce worldwide shark mortality. To do this they have come up with a specific and successful plan to prohibit the landing of any shark at the participating marina.

With around half a million sharks killed each year for recreational purposes (the majority by private boat owners and charter fishing boats), making specific marinas “Shark Friendly,” would save tens of thousands of sharks annually.

And if Slash and Steve Bartkowski are behind it, it’s got to be the right thing.

Shark Angels

A shark dancing at the feet of an angel. Photo Shark Angels
A shark dancing at the feet of an angel. Photo: Courtesy of Shark Angels
Only five years old, Shark Angels represent a new generation of conservationists who use modern technological tools and the power of education, media and local grassroots campaigns to save sharks.

Their Fin Free program, with the tag line “Say No to Shark Fin Soup” for example, was a huge success. They also offer great shark adoption schemes are great at getting kids involved and giving them a voice.

Shark Savers

Forget a Lego Ninjago pack, help these fellas out. Photo Shark Savers
Forget a Lego Ninjago pack, help these fellas out. Photo: Courtesy of Shark Savers
Shark Savers was founded in 2007 by divers with a shared passion to bring the end to the slaughter of sharks and manta rays.

Today, the group has more than 25,000 members from 99 nations, all aiming to motivate people to stop consuming sharks and shark fin soup, work for the creation of shark sanctuaries and empower divers as act as advocates and citizen scientists for sharks.

The website also has loads of articles and tips on what you can do personally to help.

Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd's flagship, the Steve Irwin goes into battle. Photo by Sea Shepherd
Sea Shepherd’s flagship, the Steve Irwin goes into battle. Photo: Courtesy of Sea Shepherd
Sea Shepherd is best known for its front line work protecting marine mammals such as whales, but its broader mandate is to protect all ocean creatures including sharks.

Be warned though, this kind of hard line activism is not for everyone. The Sea Shepherd crew have been deported, locked up, threatened and roughed up on many occasions. Yet in the face of the wholesale slaughter of our ocean’s sharks and whales, they believe their direct style of action is more important than ever.

Shark Research Institute

The SRI gets up close and personal. Photo SRI
The SRI gets up close and personal. Photo: Courtesy of SRI
Founded in 1991 at Princeton, the Shark Research Institute (SRI) is a scientific research organization that was created to sponsor and conduct research on sharks and promote their conservation.

The SRI works to correct misconceptions about sharks and stop the slaughter of around 100 million sharks annually. It also maintains the Global Shark Attack File which has been crucial in providing the media with accurate data to counteract the negative hype about shark accidents.

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