Hundreds of schoolchildren will get to question filmmakers and scientists about sharks as part of a new three-day event, Cayman Shark Talk.
Five documentaries, including one made in the Cayman Islands, will be shown as part of the event, organized by the Guy Harvey Foundation and Dart Enterprises.
The movies will be screened for free to youngsters from schools across the island on Sept. 10 and 11 at the Regal Camana Bay cinemas. There will also be question-and-answer sessions with researchers and scientists, some of whom have worked with the Guy Harvey Foundation around the world.
Free documentary screenings for the public are scheduled from 10 a.m. on Sept. 12. There is also a $35-per-head premiere of a Cayman documentary on the oceanic whitetip, and an after-party at Abacus that evening.
The documentary, filmed by George Schellenger, charts the tagging project currently taking place in Cayman’s waters. More than a dozen sharks have been fitted with satellite tags, providing researchers with information about their movements around the region and helping inform future conservation policy.
Mr. Harvey said the film also documents the changing attitudes of fishermen, who assisted scientists with tagging sharks during a game-fishing tournament.
“Fishermen have changed their mindset – not only to release sharks, but to hold on to them and wait during a tournament while scientists come to tag them.”
He hopes showing the movies will help spread that change in attitude and help more people appreciate sharks instead of fearing them.
Mr. Harvey believes education will be more important than legislation in protecting sharks and other threatened species.
“Even though the National Conservation Law providing protection for sharks is in place, the job is far from complete,” he said.
“We need to take advantage of this momentum that we have got. Kids love sharks, they are fascinated by sharks. Shark Talk Cayman is a great way of reaching the next generation with a powerful documentary made in Cayman.”
Chris Duggan of Dart Enterprises, which also sponsored and funded 10 shark tags for the oceanic whitetip project, said the event would spread a positive conservation message.
“Together we recognized an opportunity, and need, to educate our community, particularly our children, on the importance of ocean conservation, but specifically the important role that sharks play in those conservation efforts and in the ocean’s ecosystem.
“Guy works with some of the most pre-eminent shark experts in the world, and we are looking forward to welcoming these experts to the Cayman Islands to educate our community and our children on why it is so important to understand and protect these incredible animals.
“I would encourage everyone to come out to Camana Bay to hear fascinating stories from these experts, to watch some incredible shark footage, and to learn about one of the world’s most misunderstood animals.”