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Elissa Sursara
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My latest piece on Take Part discusses the misrepresented “shark danger” and the minimal prevalence of shark encounters internationally. Less than 50 fatal shark attacks occur worldwide each year, a stark contrast to the 1.2 million people killed in motor accidents and the up to 2,000 that die every year in the United States from domestic violence. In 2011, the International Shark Attack File reported less than 80 shark encounters worldwide.

In addition, most shark attacks are considered “unprovoked”, meaning the encounter is often a case of mistaken identity or poor bather behavior, and the majority of circumstances in which sharks injure bathers occur during times known for elevated shark activity; In 2011, most encounters and all fatalities occurred in early mornings or late afternoons whilst swimmers bathed or surfed alone, swam in river mouths and in close proximity to seal colonies or fishing activity.

While your spouse is more likely to kill you than a shark attack, Hollywood films like Jaws, Deep Blue Sea, and Shark Night have successfully misrepresented sharks as a killer species. In contrast, little media attention is given to the grim reality for shark populations, which over the course of several decades have been decimated by humans by more than 100 million sharks per year.

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The Crew of the Sea Shepherd ship, the Steve Irwin, talk about Operation Kimberley Miinimbi (below).

On Sunday July 22, the MY Steve Irwin under the command of Captain Malcolm Holland left Seaworks Williamstown, Melbourne Australia en route to Broome in a last ditch effort to save the largest humpback whale nursery in the world.

The Steve Irwin was given a very moving send off with a Smoking Ceremony from Rodney Augustine, who is a Nyul Nyul and Jabir Jabir man whose land and sea country is at risk due to the proposed Woodside gas hub.

Operation Miinimbi campaign leader Bob Brown stated, “The public response to our announcement that Sea Shepherd’s ship Steve Irwin is going to the Kimberley whale nursery has been heart-warming. The Australian public is right behind this venture to save the humpback nursery from the threats of Woodside’s proposed Kimberley gas factory at JPP. We have invited every federal MP to join us to see the whales in their natural splendor.”

The Steve Irwin will arrive in Broome on Saturday, August 4th, where a number of publicized voyages will commence to James Price Point, as a vigil to draw attention to the prolific calving that goes on in the region of the proposed site.

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I’m thrilled to become an official affiliate of non-profit organisation, Orangutan Outreach ( Orangutan Outreach’s mission is to protect orangutans in their native habitat whilst providing care for orphaned and displaced orangutans until they can be returned to the wild. Orangutan Outreach also seeks to raise and promote public awareness of orangutan conservation issues by collaborating with partner organizations around the world, including the IAR Ketapang Orangutan Rescue Center, the BOS Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rescue Center and the Center for Orangutan Protection (COP).

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My peers at the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) have partnered with The Body Shop in an event launch yesterday that saw hundreds of people take part in a “humane chain” to bring awareness to the plight of animals transported via live export – the participants even broke a world record for most people standing to form a human chain! Join us and represent animals transported via live export at WSPA’s official campaign website.

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The creators of WhoSay have created an account for me on their social media service, and I’m energised to share conservation pictures and environmentally friendly lifestyle media with you on this exciting new platform. WhoSay was created as a verified and direct-to-fans platform for actors, athletes and influencers (including James Franco, Tom Hanks and Philippe Cousteau) to share their work, their lives and their favourite things.

To follow me on WhoSay, you can create a viewer account, view my WhoSay profile (linked below) or follow my WhoSay updates through Twitter and Facebook.

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From July 18th 2012: Each year, up to 73 million sharks are killed. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 1/3 of all shark and ray species are now threatened with extinction. In just a few decades, some regional shark populations have declined by over 95%, and their populations continue to decline, mostly due to the demand for shark fin. Sharks are literally being fished and eaten into extinction during our lifetimes.

However, the tide is starting to turn for sharks. Shark sanctuaries are being declared around the world, particularly in the South Pacific. Dozens of countries have made shark finning illegal. Shark fin is an illegal substance in many places… and now, the critical element to all of this is enforcement. This is why Sea Shepherd is poised to make an incredibly meaningful impact on shark populations. Enforcement is what Sea Shepherd is known for.

Sea Shepherd’s shark campaign, Operation Requiem, is geared towards working collaboratively with governments, agencies, and other NGOs to enforce local and national laws that protect sharks. It is based upon a long legacy and a positive set of principles.

Stay connected with the Operation Requiem crew at the official campaign website, linked below. 

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These pictures were shot by Sea Shepherd supporter and National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry, and represent a small part of his magnificent portfolio. Brian is an award-winning photojournalist specialising in marine wildlife and underwater environments, and has been a contract National Geographic photographer since 1998. His photographs have a conservation bent, telling the stories of our planet’s unique species and bringing attention to the issues that endanger our oceans and it’s inhabitants. In the last thirty years, Brian has spent an approximate 10,000 hours underwater meeting some of the ocean’s most interesting occupants - like this giant right whale!

Check out more of Brian's shots at the blog link below. 

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From June 8th 2012: My latest piece on Take Part discusses the palm oil trade and it’s troubling effect on wild orangutan populations. Palm oil monoculture is “palming” off orangutans in giant numbers, pushing the once abundant species closer than ever to extinction. Today, less than 60,000 orangutans exist in the wild and scientists and biologists conclude that the species’ numbers have disappeared by more than 70 percent over the last 60 years as a combined result of trapping, hunting, and deforestation.
Palm oil plantations are used to harvest and process palm oil, an edible plant oil derived from the fleshy middle layer of the fruit of the oil palm. Not unlike other vegetable oils, palm oil acts as a cooking ingredient in both tropical cooking and the larger commercial food industry, and may be prevalent in products purchased by up to 75 percent of everyday Western consumers – including yours.

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From June 3rd 2012: The world’s largest and cruelest marine mammal slaughter of 85,000 still-nursing baby seal pups begins annually on July 1st in Namibia. For 139 days, terrified pups will be rounded up, separated from their mothers, and brutally beaten to death for their pelts – a CITES protected species, killed in a seal reserve every day just hours before tourists come to view the remaining colony. Inhumane, illegal, unsustainable and unethical, many conservation groups violently oppose the slaughter. While filming the cull is illegal, Sea Shepherd, who has a long legacy of defending seals around the world, aims to end this slaughter once and for all. Keep up to date with Sea Shepherd's Operation Desert Seal at the link below. 

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From May 31st 2012: My latest piece on Take Part discusses the shocking prevalence of violence against wildlife officers and conservationists working to protect animals in the field. The struggle to protect animals against poaching is a full-scale war, and in most countries, wildlife officers who station themselves in the middle of these barbaric slaughters risk their lives and liberty to protect the world’s last remaining tigers, elephants and orangutans—often with little or no reward. But no matter where we’re from—Australia, Africa, or the United States—rangers and conservationists share one thing in common: we’re all targets.
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