The “Protect the Fins” Campaign and Its Impact on the Community

Environmental education workshop as part of the "Protect the Fins" campaign at Loma Linda School in Santa Cruz Island.

We conclude with our campaign Protect the Fins and the Ocean Wins! Demonstrating that humans and sharks can coexist sustainably. After visiting all the schools in the archipelago and performing various activities with the local community, we have reached our goal!

During July, August and September we held environmental education workshops in all schools in Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela and Floreana. In total we worked with 1441 children between 9 and 12 years of age focusing on transmitting key messages about the importance of sharks and their conservation. In addition, we held four open fairs to the general public with the same objective and a field trip with children to observe sharks in order to learn and create a closer link with the sea through the experience in it. In addition, with the support of the Ministry of Culture - Galapagos Nucleus, a dance play was developed with their dance group of kids for the community.

Field trip to snorkel with sharks with the winners of the story competition
Field trip to snorkel with sharks with the winners of the story competition "Galapagos needs sharks, sharks need Galapagos". Photo by: Liza Díaz Lávola.

Our shark ambassadors have been key in the activities carried out. Guillo the hammerhead, Vanessa the tiger shark, Ramona the whale shark, Ron the Galapagos shark and Pancho the blacktip have helped us to transmit messages about the anatomy of sharks, the ecological role they play in the ocean, the importance for tourism and the situation of sharks in the world. "Animals also feel like people do!", "We must protect sharks", "Sharks are important for the ocean and for people!", among others, were some of the comments of the students after watching the videos of our characters and attending the scheduled events. In addition, the presence of our characters at fairs open to the public allowed the community to become more familiar with these animals.

Guillo the hammerhead and Vanessa the tiger shark participating in the event about the sustainable coexistence between humans and sharks.
Guillo the hammerhead and Vanessa the tiger shark participating in the event about the sustainable coexistence between humans and sharks. Photo by: Liza Díaz Lávola.

Through the respective assessments, we were able to show that many of the initial perceptions about sharks changed after the students received the information presented. The results reflect that the knowledge is directly associated to the perceptions that we have with respect to a subject, in this case, the sharks. If we know more about these animals and understand their importance then we will be concerned to support their conservation either directly or indirectly by generating behavior towards different species; remember that our attitude can generate great changes, so the following chart represents our possible future generation’s ambassadors.

Final results of evaluations made to students on the four islands before and after the environmental education workshops.
Final results of evaluations made to students on the four islands before and after the environmental education workshops.

Despite living in an archipelago surrounded by sharks, there are still people that have never seen and/or know very little about them.  An unmissable activity if you live in or are visiting Puerto Ayora is the observation of juvenile blacktip sharks from the passenger dock at night.  This is one of the lucky sights where sharks can be observed swimming very close with other animals.  It is only through informing and involving those who live in Galapagos that the islands can continue to be an example of coexistence and conservation of sharks for the whole world, which is why it is so necessary to bring together the Islands' people and these important species.

Black tip juvenile sharks in the passenger’s dock in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz.
Black tip juvenile sharks in the passenger’s dock in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz. Photo by: Sam Rowley.

This campaign has been developed thanks to the support of the Save Our Seas Foundation and Lindblad-National Geographic.

The “Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands”, in French “Fondation Charles Darwin pour les îles Galapagos”, Association International sans but lucratif (“AISBL”), has its registered office located at Drève du Pieuré 19, 1160 Brussels, and is registered under the trade registry of Brussels under the number 0409.359.103.

© 2018 Charles Darwin Foundation. All rights reserved.