St. Eustatius’ first shark week came to a close with a street party and grand prize giveaway last Saturday evening. The week was packed with activities geared toward informing the general public of the importance of sharks in our oceans. Attention was drawn especially to the cruel practice of shark finning through which on average 100 million sharks are killed by humans every year.
Informative call-in radio programs and two shark movie nights were held to bring information across in a more fun and interactive way. Children were the main focus and some activities were specifically geared toward them, such as a children’s book launch at the public library and a fun day at the playground. All activities were of course shark-themed.
The most popular part of Shark Week was the shark treasure hunt. Some 100 laminated sharks were hidden around the busiest areas of the island. Nearing the end of the week, the search intensified as more people learned of the hunt. Those finding a shark got a small gift and were eligible for larger raffle prizes, said organizer Claire Blair, who worked with children especially at the schools.
This has been the first shark week and the coordinators are already discussing how things can be improved for next year. Lessons have been learned and we are excited to bring more events and information throughout the next years, said Marine Park Manager Jessica Berkel.
Statia Shark Week was held to launch a three-year shark awareness project in collaboration with all the Dutch Caribbean islands and Holland. The goal is ultimately to become an official part of the “Yayari” Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary which was newly declared by Dutch State Secretary Dijksma last week. The project incorporates research, fishermen exchanges, training and public awareness.
STENAPA would like to thank all those that came out and supported their Shark Week. It was much appreciated, especially the finale with the band on the prize-giving evening. The public is reminded that there is still room for volunteers to help paint the giant shark mural on the wall at Gallows Bay. Call the National Park office at 011 (318) 2884 for more information and look out for more shark happenings in the coming months.