[Coral-List] Vegetarian Shark

Sarah Frias-Torres sfrias_torres at hotmail.com
Wed Jul 16 16:06:35 EDT 2008

Dear coral-listers
While still reflecting on all the information gathered during ICRS (the good, the bad and the ugly), I just wanted to share a true story that illustrates how much we still have to do to educate the public at large.
Yesterday, while walking on St. Pete Beach, west Florida coast,  I ended up talking to a group of active seniors with seemingly sharp minds. The conversation drifted towards the large creatures of the sea, and eventually to whale sharks. 
"Yes, the sharks that eat PLANTAINS", I was told, followed by a long explanation on how the poor marine creatures could possibly starve to death, as not many examples of the vegetarian delight drift around for the unfortunate sharks to eat. "Perhaps you mean PLANKTON" I replied. And proceeded to explain briefly how such a large creature can feed on such small ones. We then parted, each person immersed in their thoughts. They had acquired some new knowledge (I hope), after a big laugh of course, and I realized that somewhere along the way, our efforts for the public understanding of science often transform the one inch minnow into a whale of a shark.  Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D. 

Marine Conservation Biologist
MRAG Americas, St. Petersburg, Florida USA
Ocean Research and Conservation Association, Fort Pierce, Florida USA

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