Montel Williams and United Nations delegates visit CEI
Typically there are many steps in between conducting research and influencing management, but once in a while there is a direct link between scientists and policy makers that allows for quick and meaningful change.
We recently had such an opportunity here at CEI when 10 delegates from the United Nations Shark Sanctuary Coalition (including representatives from Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Poland, The Bahamas, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago), along with television personality Montel Williams and co, joined us for two days to gain a new perspective on sharks. It is amazing what a few juvenile lemon sharks and a single stingray in the shallows can do for someone's point of view. I was hoping to set a deepwater line with them, but in hindsight that probably wouldn't have been such a good idea as a typical day looks a lot like this (not sure if that is water or throw up in between the shark and the visiting student... rough day on the water to say the least):
Instead, we took them into the field to handle juvenile lemon sharks in the calm waters of a tidal creek and then caught a stingray on a nearby sandbar... a much better idea considering some of the delegates couldn't swim!
Dr. Edd Brooks (Cape Eleuthera Institute) and Eric Carey (Bahamas National Trust) also presented on shark conservation in the greater Caribbean and made a lasting impact on the visitors. Overall they had a wonderful time and certainly have a different take on sharks than before the visit. A number of the delegates returned to their home nations with plans to follow the example set by the Bahamas, where longlining was banned in 1993 and a shark sanctuary created in 2011.
All of us here at CEI were very excited to share our work with these distinguished guests and were honored to introduce them to our world.
Check out the full press release here.