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August 22, 2012

Brothers and Sisters of Vanuatu

By Angelo Smith

Photo: Simon AgerPhoto: Simon AgerAfter an emotional farewell from the Solomons we started our sail on our new vaka the Brigitte Bardot bound for Vanuatu on the shark campaign. The crossing over from Honiara was pretty tough as we faced up-to 40kt winds with swells at around 5-6meters or maybe even more. Getting used to the different motions of the Brigitte Bardot didn’t take too long, thankfully. From sailing using the stars and the elements for the past 2 years, to joining Sea Shepherd has been a real change for me. Using a paddle to steer our way around the north and south pacific to sitting in a wheelhouse is totally different. With those changes it’s also an eye and mind opening experience.

Since we arrived almost 2 weeks ago, we were able to visit a lot of villages and schools and share with them our message of ocean conservation and protection of our marine resource, especially the endangered sharks and the important role they play in our marine ecosystem.

Reaching out to the people has been quite easy as they were all aware of the vakas when we had stopped by in these waters, so that just got them more interested on what we had to say. And I think being from the South Pacific too helped us bond with our hosts everywhere we have been to so far.

Sadly we found out that a lot of the people were not aware of the importance of sharks and the importance of marine reserves and no take zones. So being able to educate our brothers and sisters in Vanuatu is something we are passionate about and love doing. Taking the fear out of the people is also one thing we hope to get across because here and else where in the South Pacific, you say sharks, immediately they think jaws and being eaten. So sharing our experience of swimming with sharks in the Cocos Islands helps take away that negative thoughts.

As much as we have been educating the people I have learnt a lot. From the numbers of sharks killed to other statistics has just put a lot of drive in me. I intend to go back to Fiji and work with Seru, and together we hope to bring a lot of change. Working with our government to establish more marine parks and hopefully to declare Fiji waters a full shark sanctuary in the near future is our plan.

We are here to protect our waters and with all this invaluable knowledge we have gained will surely be put to good use once we go home.

Very thankful to all who have made this possible and look forward to more campaigns together in the future.

Photo: Carolina A. CastroPhoto: Carolina A. Castro
Photo: Carolina A. CastroPhoto: Carolina A. Castro
Photo: Carolina A. CastroPhoto: Carolina A. Castro