Dr. Rachel Graham had what she calls her “Aha Moment” when she met a 22-foot long whale shark underwater for the first time. “If that doesn’t make you think about a change of lifestyle and work, nothing will,” she says.
In 1998, Rachel started studying whale sharks, becoming one of only five people in the world who were doing so at the time. As she tagged hundreds of whale sharks and began looking into their lives, she also started wondering what was going on with the other species of sharks swimming the world’s seas.
Shark and Ray Conservation
Rachel now works to study and save sharks and rays with her organization MarAlliance. She is based in Belize, and her conservation work extends to Mexico, Honduras, Cuba and Pohnpei (Micronesia.) Like the sharks and rays Rachel seeks to conserve, the partnerships she and her team build transcend borders.
We were honored to have Rachel at the 2013 Wildlife Conservation Expo as a guest speaker. At the event, she took us on a journey under the sea and delivered a message of hope. Fishing remains the primary threat to sharks, and there is no registered sustainable shark fishing, according to Rachel. Although 20% of all species of sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, she says that things are on the upswing. Many countries now have species protection, protected areas, trade regulations and greater awareness of the need to conserve sharks and rays.
Rachel and her team actively promote the management and conservation of tropical sharks and rays through a grassroots and multi-pronged approach of research, capacity-building, outreach, education, conservation and policy support. Their activities range from conducting coral, fish and shark assessments to support bans of the fishing of sharks to introducing both children and politicians to sharks in real life.
Support Sharks and Rays
If you would like to support shark conservation and Rachel’s work, you can now donate to her by visiting our MarAlliance page and designating your donation to “Sharks & Rays” on the dropdown menu.
Learn more about her work in her full Expo talk below.