Shark Savers was proud to be the conservation partner at JAWSFEST:The Tribute, August 10-12 in Martha's Vineyard to celebrate the 37th anniversary of the release of the flim JAWS.
Thousands of people returned to "Amity Island" to tour the island and meet JAWS crew members and stars, and engage with shark experts and conservationsts to learn more about sharks.
Shark Savers provided a booth at the “Sharks, Arts and Conservation” event, where people learned why sharks are important for us to protect, and the current threats they are facing. We provided information about our programs, sold art and literature celebrating sharks and that contribute to conservation, and had fun activities for children and parents to participate in.
Our booth was equipped with an activity station, where children of all ages stopped by to ask questions, color in pictures of their favorite sharks, and collect Shark Savers stickers! Groups also came by to play with our shark puppets and pose for photos with Shark Savers’ inflatable shark Bruce.
Wendy Benchley, the President of the Board of Directors of Shark Savers, spoke at the tribute to JAWS, and was also a speaker on two panels. One panel celebrated the film JAWS and its impact on those involved with its production, while another had shark scientists, artists, filmmakers and more discuss their personal experiences diving with great white sharks. Wendy, along with the other panelists, told compelling stories about great white encounters, and shared why she is so passionate about protecting sharks.
“I think it is just wonderful that JAWS has taken on a new way of approaching conservation," says Wendy. "I think most families that watch JAWS now think of it as a learning tool, as something that crosses all generations, as a stimulus to go out and learn more about sharks and to help preserve them, because they see what a magnificent animal it is. We need our apex predator in the ocean to keep the ocean healthy.”
Throughout the weekend’s festivities, we saw a great shift in general perceptions. Some participants began the weekend fearing sharks or were unaware of their troubling population declines, but ended the weekend with an understanding that sharks are important, amazing creatures that are worthy of our respect and protection. JAWSFEST and Shark Savers celebrated this new legacy that the film has created: inspiring people who love sharks to be passionate about sharks and conservation.
We want to thank artist Bill Wieger for donating his miraculous white shark anatomy sculpture to Shark Savers’ education and outreach department, and a very special thanks to JAWSFEST and Discovery Channel.
Shark art: Bill Weiger