The Asia Dive Expo (ADEX) is Asia’s biggest and longest running dive show and this year it was attended by over 38,000 visitors. Conservation underpins the show: each year a theme is chosen and 2013 was dedicated to whale sharks. Shark Savers Singapore had a busy and successful weekend meeting old friends and new.
Jonn Lu, Director of Shark Savers Singapore, gave a presentation on the opening evening with updates on the I’m FINished with FINs campaign and the launch in Asia of SharksCount. This citizen science project enables the collection of data from shark sightings. Divers were able to come to the booth to sign up for shark identification sheets.
The second launch of the evening was of the new SDI/TDI Shark Awareness Course, where representatives from participating dive companies were invited on stage to receive certificates. Finally the third launch of the evening was of a new iPad app developed by OneDiver which allows supporters to take their own portrait in the campaign poster style and make a pledge at the same time.
The Shark Savers Singapore booth was staffed by team of volunteers to share information on shark conservation, SharksCount and Shark Awareness, assist visitors in taking a pledge, sign the backdrop and do some shopping! There were t-shirts with a beautiful design by artist Memuco, ‘shark fin’ soaps made by Lush, the natural cosmetics company, and tote bags made by Billabong to put all the goodies in! The ‘fin fans’ proved to be a huge hit as usual: many visitors big and small left wearing theirs, spreading the shark conservation message far and wide.
The other big hit of the weekend was Smurfy the whale shark, a life size sculpture created by Shark Savers Singapore volunteers. Visitors joined in the fun by painting spots and entering a naming competition. Over the three days countless people stopped by to take photographs with ‘Smurfy’. He aroused interest and opened opportunities for discussion between volunteers and visitors. In recognition of his role in raising awareness, Smurfy won the ADEX Whale Conservation Award for Shark Savers Singapore.
If Smurfy was the most photographed thing at ADEX, the most talked about item was ‘The Big Blue Buzz Marine Life: Entertainment or Erudition?’ discussion.
Jonn Lu and Shawn Heinrichs, director of Shark Savers, took part in addressing the conservation issues raised by animals in captivity and eco tourism. There was a full timetable of presentations to be seen by respected photographers, researchers and scientists and even live head shaving and tattooing – all in the name of shark conservation, of course!