Help stop Australia's shark fin trade
My name is Lisa Mondy and in the summer of 2011 I was bitten by a great white shark. Today I’m asking for your help to save them.
I was wakeboarding with some workmates at Jimmy’s Beach, New South Wales, on a picture perfect day in crystal clear water. I had just come off my board and I was swimming back towards it, when a four metre shark came straight up from the bottom. It hit me hard, wrapping its huge jaws around my arm and head.
It took me down under the water but let me go after realising I wasn’t lunch. My friends pulled me from the water, but I was in deep trouble. Even an exploratory bite from such a magnificent animal can do a lot of damage. I had major life threatening injuries. I nearly lost an arm and I lost a lot of blood. I was rushed to hospital where amazing teams of surgeons worked through the night to save me. I was in surgery for a marathon 16 hours and was very, very lucky to survive.
Since the incident I’ve thought a lot about that shark and the public response to what had happened. People were fascinated. The media went nuts – in fact, their frenzy was scarier than meeting that shark. Incidents with sharks are so rare but they seem magnified by our primal fear of them. As a result stories like mine make the headlines, yet ironically sharks would have to be the most misunderstood group of species on the planet.
Sharks have a bad reputation, but it’s unjustified. If they really wanted us on their menu, we’d know about it. I can vouch for that with certainty. If that shark really wanted to eat me, it would have! Studies reveal that the odds of being attacked by a shark are one in 11.5 million. We’re more likely to be killed by bees, toasters, or even falling vending machines. The truth is, any person that has swum in the ocean has likely been in close vicinity to a shark. More often than not, it’s sharks that flee us as soon as they sense us nearby.
You see, I was nothing more than a case of mistaken identity, because just like us, sharks can make mistakes. It’s what we do to them deliberately that I’m writing to you about.
Right now, sharks are in serious strife in each and every ocean on Earth. Scientists estimate that around 73 million sharks are killed every year, primarily for their fins. Shark populations are nose-diving across the planet. They are so vulnerable to fishing pressure and will take a long time to recover because they are slow to mature and breed – much more like whales and dolphins in their life cycles. Sharks are now among the most threatened groups of species in the ocean, and predicted to be the next great wave of extinctions on Earth.
Here in Australia, from shark fisheries in the Great Barrier Reef to our cool southern seas, we’re still sending shark fins overseas by the tonne, to service the shameful global trade in shark fin.
After months of frustrating investigation, with government departments either not knowing or hiding the truth, the Australian Marine Conservation Society put in a Freedom of Information request and uncovered the shocking fact that Australia exported an incredible 178 tonnes of dried shark fin last year to end up as soup.
They also revealed that not only are we feeding the global appetite for shark fin, we’re bringing fins in from countries with poorer fishing regulations than our own, countries such as India and Indonesia, that still barbarically fin live sharks and dump their bodies overboard, often still alive, leaving them to suffocate or bleed to death.
It is unacceptable and it has got to stop. Please donate today.
That’s why I’ve been working with AMCS to help them out with their shark conservation campaigns. AMCS is the only national charity dedicated purely and simply to protecting our oceans. They have a long legacy of protecting threatened sharks, including stopping legal live shark finning by Australian fisheries and campaigning for shark preservation in our World Heritage Great Barrier Reef.
Your donation will help blow the lid with further Freedom of Information investigations into the scale of Australia’s shameful trade and ultimately stop the import and export of shark fin. It will also free Australia from the inhumane practice of live shark finning.
We'll send you a shark fin campaign sticker when you donate that you can stick on your diary, water bottle, car etc! We want to spread the word to as many Australians as possible that sharks are the ones under threat and we are the ones who need to act.
The question I’m most often asked is why do I want to save the creature that almost killed me?
Well, I’ve always loved sharks and spent a lot of time explaining to people that sharks are just misunderstood and don’t deserve our fear and disrespect. I’ve watched them swimming peacefully in the wild while snorkelling, and from boats. Now I am among a very few that have been that close to a great white shark and walked away, and in a way that makes me feel a little privileged. My feelings towards sharks haven’t changed, but now I have the means to reach out to more people. I can’t change what happened back in the summer of 2011, but I can use it to change what happens in the future. With millions of sharks killed every year, they’ve got millions more reasons to be more scared of us than we have of them.