More than 1,500 schoolchildren have signed up to attend ‘shark talks’ as part of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation’s Ocean Conservation Month.

The series of events, which also includes a sustainable-fishing clinic for families, a management discussion over Stingray City and a fundraising cocktail party, takes place throughout March.

As usual, sharks are a key feature of the series.

The iconic apex predators are a great way to get children hooked on conservation from an early age, Guy Harvey explained.

“I think this is one of our proudest educational initiatives. It is the highlight of the month for me,” he added.

Kids on all three islands will get the chance to watch a shark documentary and ask questions of experts from Harvey’s foundation.

“We always start by asking how many of you are afraid of sharks?” said Jessica Harvey, project manager for the foundation. Quite a few raise their hands.

“We show them the documentary and then, at the end, when we ask how many would like to go on a shark expedition, we see even more hands go up.”

Changing public perception of sharks is one of the key goals of the foundation. The message is not just aimed at kids. A public shark talk on the beach at the Westin Grand Cayman resort is part of this year’s series. Guy Harvey said Cayman has shown progress in increasing understanding of the value of sharks and protecting them from fishing and other threats.

Research from the foundation, including satellite tagging of many species, particularly oceanic white tips, has illustrated the enormous range of these ocean predators.

“They travel vast distances and cross into the waters of so many different countries. For conservation to be truly effective, we have to work with so many other jurisdictions,” he added.

The theme will be emphasised at the cocktail gala on 20 March. Food stations will be set up around the Governor’s Ballroom at the Westin, representing the different countries the oceanic white tip shark travels through.

Another key feature of the month is the gathering of Stingray City operators, Department of Environment officials and other interested parties for an informal management update on the attraction.

Jessica Harvey said the aim is to help educate operators about proper handling of rays and to encourage a culture of self enforcement at the site.

This is the third year the discussion has been organised, and she believes standards are improving.

The foundation regularly takes a population census and performs health checks on the rays at the North Sound attraction. Jessica Harvey will also be giving a TED-style talk at KPMG as part of Ocean Conservation Month on the importance of protecting it.

“The main point of [the month] is to create greater public awareness about ocean-conservation issues,” she said.

Ocean Conservation Month key events:

7 March – Fishing Family Fun Day at George Town Yacht Club
13, 20, 27 March – Shark Talk Grand Cayman (for schoolchildren) at Camana Bay movie theatre
14 March – Pizza, beer and stingrays: Information session at Cayman Islands Brewery
20 March – An Ocean Affair: Cocktail party fundraiser at the Westin
22 March – Community clean-up at Gun Bay, East End
24 March – Shark Talk, Southern Cross Club, Little Cayman
28 March – Shark Talk on the Beach: Public event at the Westin
For more information go to guyharvey.com or email [email protected].

• There will be raffle tickets sold at every event for a chance to win a GoPro 8.

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