How I Became a Shark Saver: Chris Vargas

Posted on March 20, 2013
Written by: Shark Savers
Tags: How I Became a Shark Saver 

 

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What is your name?

Chris Vargas

Where do you live?

Jacksonville, FL

What is your favorite shark?

Caribbean Reef Shark "Reefies"

When did you know that you wanted to help save sharks?

I knew I wanted to help sharks when I was around 16. I received my open water certification in 1994, when I was 14, and as most divers I was very nervous about when and where my first shark encounter would be. Unfortunately, such encounter did not happened until 2 years later at a dive spot close to Mona Island in Puerto Rico. It was a beautiful Scalloped Hammerhead. I asked my instructor Carlos why it was so hard to see sharks, and that's when he explained to me that sharks were actually in danger of extinction.

I couldn't believe an animal that so many people are scared of was actually an endangered species.

Immediately I started to become more interested in sharks and volunteering with different ocean conservation organizations in Puerto Rico. I knew then that my call in life was to help this magnificent species.

Why did you become involved with Shark Savers?

When I found out about the Shark Savers organization I immediately knew I wanted to be involved. Sharks Savers is doing great things all over the world helping create Shark Sanctuaries. As a scuba diver I wanted to be involved with the SharksCount program. I knew that was the perfect way for me to be involved and help protect sharks. 

What do you do to make a difference for sharks?

Working in a dive shop is a great way to educate people about sharks and the problems that they are facing. I coordinate SharksCount dives through our dive shop, groups and universities in North East Florida. I give Shark Savers presentations and I educate new divers about how to be respectful of the ocean ecosystems.

What is it like giving Shark Savers presentations? 

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My very first presentation I was very nervous. I didn't want to ruin the presentation so I kind of over prepared myself, but after the first 5 minutes I calmed down and everything went smooth from there. Everybody so far in all my presentations have been very respectful and involved.

Any interesting stories from your SharksCount dives?

Kind of a funny story: In our January SharksCount dive in West Palm Beach, Florida, a group of students from Jacksonville University drove 4 hours to attend the dive, but unfortunately we had to cancel the dive due to weather.

The next day we went back out without the students and conditions were absolutely perfect. Five minutes into our first dive a beautiful black tip shark came to say hello; the Jacksonville students are still not happy about that.