With 70-100 million sharks slaughtered each year to satisfy the global demand for shark fin soup, considered an Asian delicacy, the expedition will focus on shark preservation and conservation. The United Nations released a report in the spring of 2010 stating that if the mass harvest of sharks continues, global shark populations will disappear in the next ten to twenty years. It is known that sharks now represent the largest number of threatened marine animals on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species. Furthermore, as an apex predator, sharks play one of the most important roles balancing the delicate ocean ecosystem. Today, over 1 billion people on the planet depend on the oceans as their main source of food and income – if that source disappears, imagine the problems we’ll face.
Tokyo-based PangeaSeed is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and raising international understanding of the plight of sharks. PangeaSeed is the first and only organization in Japan to raise public awareness regarding shark conservation and preservation. “In collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Donsol and The Thresher Shark Research & Conservation Project in Malapascua, our organization will host an international ecological awareness study tour in two parts 26 March -10 April, said Tre’ L. Packard, PangeaSeed managing director. “This pioneering tour is the first of its kind for Japan. With the kind and generous support of our sponsors including Aqua Lung scuba gear, Oxford Suites Makati & renowned global artist Brad Klausen, our group will continue its goal to break down the misconceptions of sharks and help to redirect attention to the urgent environmental needs surrounding our oceans.”
The first leg of the tour will guide a group of international attendees to assist PangeaSeed and WWF Donsol marine biologists with whale shark research and data collection. The data collected will be added to an international database shared by researchers and scientists worldwide. These efforts will help to develop a better understanding of the need to preserve and protect the threatened whale shark. Packard added, “Attendees will have the rare opportunity to be in the water with these magnificent animals and study them in their natural state.” Additionally, attendees will host a number of cultural exchange events at Donsol schools to educate students on their very unique and special responsibility of whale shark conservation, ocean preservation and how it can directly benefit the local population.