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Crookedfinger Art: Sustainable Fashion & Art

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Crookedfinger Art is an expression of my person style and creative impulses. – Kim Cadenhead

Meet Kim! 

Kim Cadenhead is the founder of Crookedfinger Art.  Kim has a unique quirk, two crooked pinky fingers, a result of a genetic glitch.  Her little quirk resulted in the inspiration for her company name, it is an ode to her unique characteristic which she embraces and has allowed her to flourish as an artist with her original artistic style.  Kim is passionate about various medias for art projects.  Her portfolio includes: paintings on canvas, mixed media, handcrafted sustainable products and graphic t-shirt designs.  Kim recently took part in an artist workshop in North Carolina.  The workshop gave Kim an opportunity to grow as an artist and finesse her painting skills.  Her experience there lead to her latest creative endeavor a series of floral paintings on both canvas and repurposed wooden trays— both wonderful works of art for home decor.

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Kim is an artist who is inspired by the environment around her and incorporates the very essence of her surroundings into her paintings, handmade items and mixed media projects.  In my humble option, I view Kim’s most recent floral collection as having a touch of influence from impressionist paintings incorporated with her own modern signature style, blending beautifully together.  Her floral paintings from her 2016 collection are my personal favorites.  Kim sells both original canvas artwork and canvas prints.

Sustainable Fashion and Eco Art

Since moving from Toronto, Canada to the Cayman Islands, Kim has visited local thrift shops to gather materials for her latest sustainable art projects.  It is her aspiration to repurpose materials found locally and transform them in sustainable handcrafted products including: beach tote bags, hand tote bags, messenger bags rugs, pot holders, coasters and even mixed media art pieces.

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It is rather astounding when you take a moment to realize the magnitude of materials available that has the potential to be repurposed and used in a sustainable way.  All of her eco-friendly items are handmade.  Kim’s sustainable art pieces have all been made from magazines that would have otherwise ended up in the landfill.  Kim is an artist with an eco-conscious mindset.  Her sustainable fashion and home products prove that recycled and repurposed materials can be transformed into chic sustainable products.

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Support Local

Kim’s artwork and eco-friendly products are available for sale at Art Nest Creative Studio, at Pasadora Place.  You can also visit Kim at Camana Bay’s local Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays.

Stay Connected

Follow Kim on Facebook, click here

Follow Kim on Instagram, click here 

Visit her website, click here 

 

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Sea of Hope: Preserving the Heart of our Planet

 

Photo Credit: National Geographic

SEA OF HOPE follows iconic ocean explorer and conservationist Dr. Sylvia Earle, renowned underwater photographer Brian Skerry, author and captain Max Kennedy, and their unlikely crew of teenage aquanauts on a year-long quest to secure their future. Deploying science and photography, they hope to inspire the creation of blue parks across an unseen and imperiled American wilderness.

It was an absolute honor to be published in Mission Blue’s Ocean Stories.  Please visit their website to read my full article Sea of Hope: Preserving the Heart of our Planet.  Sea of Hope is airing 15th January 2017 on National Geographic.

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Photo Credit: Ellen Cuylaerts

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Epiphany: How A Family Of Explorers & Conservationists Overcame Their Fears

 

View Epiphany Movie Trailer

A popular definition of epiphany as defined in the Oxford Dictionary is: “A moment of sudden and great revelation or realization.  For me, an epiphany is a sublime moment.  It is an awakening, when your thoughts come into focus and there is a moment of clarity.  The opportunity presents itself as an illuminating thought.  A moment of such great revelation can bring forth incredible things.

I have had the privilege to get to know award-winning filmmaker and wildlife cinematographer Michael Maes and his wife Ellen Cuylaerts, an award-winning wildlife photographer.  They are truly two of the most amazing people I have ever met.  They are inspiring, compassionate, kind, generous, brave and humble people.  I am grateful to know them.  As a family they live intriguing and extraordinary lives as explorers and conservationists.  They explore the world and use their gifts and talents in film and photography to share their passion for conservation with the world.  An underlying message in their documentary Epiphany is the power of film and photography.  I am a firm believer that art whether it is in the form of film, photography, writing or any other genre has the ability to create change and have a positive impact.  The photographs and film both Michael and Ellen share with the world captures stunning encounters with wildlife, marine life and spectacular scenic views of nature.  It serves to remind us this planet is worth fighting for and protecting.  Art has an incredible ability to connect us all on a universal level.

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For Michael and Ellen, film and photography is a means for them to contribute to nature and conservation— a way of giving back.  They use their films and photography to educate, and create awareness about various environmental issues.  A strong image whether captured in a still photograph or a moving picture can evoke emotion, share a powerful message and allow an opportunity for one to be enlightened and enriched.  In particular, a scene in their documentary Epiphany with Whale Sharks captures a collection of beautiful moments spent in the presence of these majestic creatures.  There is utter tranquility within this scene and the Whale Sharks swim gracefully.  The scene showed the majesty of sharks— they are not to be feared but respected.  Other scenes with Oceanic White Tips present the elegant poises and patterns of these sharks as they glide through the water, depicting them beautifully in their natural habitat.  The sharks and divers were able to inhabit the space harmoniously.  It is important to note, the divers still had to remain very vigilant at all times.  Ellen and Michael take great care in the composition of their photography by ensuring they develop a connection with the wildlife during their encounter and allow that to translate in their photography.  By doing so, it creates a powerful image illustrating that there is a story and meaning behind every photograph.  The heart of their photography and film is to remind us all what a privilege it is to live on this beautiful planet and to not take for granted our natural resources, the environment, the ocean and all animals.  There is a great urgency for a united effort and action to happen globally to increase conservation of the environment and protection of all animals.  As advocates for the ocean they are keen to promote awareness of the urgency to protect sharks.  Ellen and Michael use film and photography to promote conservation and help rehabilitate the image of sharks by showing us that sharks are to be respected not feared.  The real fear is a life without sharks.  The reality is if sharks continue to be slaughtered for their fins and their population continues to rapidly decline they will face extinction.  Sharks have been roaming the ocean immensely longer than humans have inhabited the planet.  It would be a great tragedy for sharks to become extinct.  There is no coming back from extinction.

 

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Recently, I had the opportunity to watch their documentary Epiphany a film that is inspiring and moving.  The film left a profound impact on me.  It is a film that I hold dear to my heart, as it was truly special to watch a film friends of mine had made and with such admirable bravery they shared their story with the world.  I implore others to watch their award-winning documentary which is currently available on iTunes.  The documentary touches on a variety of themes: the power of art and film, conservation of sharks, environmentalism, Autism, the unbreakable bond of a family and finding bravery to overcome fear.  Michael and his family are incredibly courageous to share a vulnerable side of their lives and their journey through life with the world.  Primarily, the narrative of the film tells the journey of Ellen and how she finds the bravery to overcome her fear of the ocean.  It is her kids that leads Ellen back to nature.  It is on this journey, Ellen rediscovers her love for photography which allows her to overcome her fear of the water by swimming with sharks and photographing them.  The film also touches on Michael and their kids Margaux and Max leading extraordinary lives with autism.  A takeaway from their documentary is that there is a need in this world to look past each others differences and accept one another as they are.  We are all uniquely different and that is what adds to our individual beauty.  There is a need for society to stop labelling and creating divides due to differences— being different can be a remarkable gift.  A beautiful message within in the film, is the families unbreakable bond.  The diagnosis of Autism running in their family understandably initially created a feeling of isolation, fear and hardship.  However, together as a family they were able to thrive and live out their passions.  All of them having wonderfully marvelous courageous lives.  As a family they inspire us all to live a life of compassion, kindness and bravery.

 

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The power and healing of nature is beautifully interwoven within the story which unfolds throughout the documentary.  Nature serves as a catalyst to connect the family together, strengthen their bond and open doors for amazing opportunities to share their passion for conservation, film, photography and art.  A beautiful synergy is built between the family as they collectively immerse themselves in exploring nature and the depths of the ocean.  A profound message the documentary presents is that Ellen is able to move past her fear of the ocean and develop a trust within nature.  The ocean serves as a bit of a paradox in Ellen’s life, while on one hand it is the foundation of her fear of water, yet on the other, it serves to inspire her to contribute to conservation, follow her passion of photography and connect deeply with her family.  By having nature as an integral component of their lives, the differences within the family does not create walls to divide them, in fact nature bridges the family together and anchors them.  Moreover, through expeditions exploring nature, it brings forth a bravery within each of them to overcome their own personal fears.  Through their conservation efforts and giving back to nature, each of them were able embrace their individualism and remain true to themselves and their passion for the environment, photography, film and art.

Meet Michael Maes

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Michael Maes is a wildlife filmmaker, specialized in big animals and animal behavior. His portfolio (both underwater and topside) covers the polar regions, temperate waters and the tropics. He has a passionate interest for polar bears and Arctic whales.

His work has been broadcast on various national television like Nat Geo Wild, Outside Television, CBC. It also received recognition at a myriad of international film festivals; reflecting the ability to translate the need for wildlife conservation onto the screen.

In 2015 Michael was inducted as cinematographer in the Ocean Artists Society (http://www.oceanartistssociety.org), an organization uniting artists worldwide to raise awareness and protect the marine environment through art. Michael is also a founding Navigator of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (http://www.reefresearch.org), a leading scientific research centre in the Caribbean focusing on coral reef restoration, research on coral resilience, and ocean education.

More About Michael  

Website michaelmaes.com   (Currently Under Construction)

Check out some of his recent Arctic Work:

 

Q & A with Award-winning Filmmaker Michael Maes

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1. What inspired the documentary and for you to tell this story?

Ellen Cuylaerts; my wife; challenged herself to overcome her fear of water and sharks, culminating her personal growth by feeding those feared sharks. That was the story to which many viewers can relate to.

2. What is the heart of the documentary? Or the core message for audiences to take from watching the film?

Basically Epiphany is a story about all of us. Everyone has his or her fears, everyone faces challenges of life, we can all make decisions to alter our paths.

Epiphany shows the viewer setbacks can be turned into strongholds of life itself.

In short, Epiphany is a story of hope.

3. Did you face any challenges while making this documentary?

Apart from logistical nightmares, the complete lack of privacy for our family during the 18 months of filming was very exigent. Although most of the shootings were at dream locations, we constantly had cameras and microphones pointed at or near us. Especially Ellen as I was fortunate enough to be behind the camera for most of the underwater filming and all areal cinematography.

Next would be the communication between the producer (me) and the rest of the crew. Having autism makes it very difficult to communicate my thoughts; up to a point where I even think I “say” something but I actually only “think” it. That has lead to many difficult situations, frustrations and even words. But, ultimately and always thanks to Ellen, we regrouped and were able to finish a gem.

4. What was one key lesson you learned from making this film?

Don’t think what you say but say what you think!

5. Is there a particular scene in the documentary that resonates with you or has the most significant meaning to you?

To me the most emotional scene in the documentary is at the end where Ellen stands strong among tens of sharks circling her and I (you can’t see that of course as I am filming it) am lying flat on the sand at her feet; filming Ellen from that extreme low angle; all the way up to the water surface; sharks everywhere.

That scene grabs me the most as it portrays in images the fact that Ellen conquered her fear, surrounded by sharks yet she is the one who is in charge! There she stands, holding food next to her body, telling the sharks with her body-language to not come in for the food… she… her… your wife… the mother of your two children… surrounded by sharks… I cannot express how powerful that scene is for a filmmaker who’s the husband of the talent…

As a cinematographer that scene also grabs me as it is – excuse-moi the bragging – simply a formidable shot completed by the genius score of music written by the Belgian musician Eric Bettens.

6. What was your favorite filming location?

Honestly? None! They all had their particular challenges and filmic rewards. A favorite moment I could tell you: a close to two hour dive with only Ellen and myself at Tiger Beach. We were down there without bait or chum. We just wanted to have our Zen moment; away from the fuzzy madness of the production. Did we get rewarded for being there: we had three 12 feet tiger sharks and a bunch of lemons and reefies. A mind-blowing peaceful moment! This footage did not end up in the documentary as the sequences were too long and beautiful to cut. Now that Epiphany is released I will review those amazing scenes again.

7. What do you hope this documentary will accomplish? Or what is your goal or hope for this film?

Of course we want to spread awareness on the sad condition sharks are facing globally. But we also want people to think about their own life and take action if they want to. We want Epiphany to bring hope to those whom are trapped in a fixed pattern, caught in a seemingly hopeless situation.

8. What does the film mean to you and your family?

30 months of blood, sweat and tears.

9. Do you believe film and art has the power to help bring positive changes to the environment?

Many of the world’s environmental issues are far out of reach of most people. Pictures and film bring those issues closer to many, though often in the hard “documenting” way – which is good of course.

Bringing the animals and their world to the beholder in all beauty – nature as it is – makes people see the beauty of those animals. This could lessen the fear of the unknown and invoke interest in the animal or its habitat. Every time I get a message from someone I don’t know telling me some work of mine made him or her get interested in that animal or its environment, is a bigger reward to me than a paycheck.

10. Do you find using art and film as a medium allows you to see the impact and changes in the environment differently, than as opposed to just reading about the issues our environment faces?

As I am a person whom thinks in images, I would believe so. However I feel this question should better be answered by an avid and passionate reader.

More Info about Epiphany 

Website            : www.epiphany.movie

Epiphany on iTunes : https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/epiphany/id1169290433

Trailer Epiphany                     : https://vimeo.com/156486645

Special Thanks

Special thanks: Photos and video courtesy of Michael Maes and Ellen Cuylaerts

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For The Love Of Animals: Ian Somerhalder Foundation Medical Emergency Grants

 

Photo Credit: Ian Somerhalder Foundation

A truly heartwarming initiative was started by the Ian Somerhalder Foundation (ISF) to aid in the rescue and rehabilitation of animals that have heartbreaking stories of being abused, neglected or suffered a traumatic injury.  These animals are deserving and in need of a second chance.  ISF created their Medical Emergency Program to extend compassion to these animals and assist in aiding to their recovery and wellbeing.  ISF launched their Medical Emergency Grant Program on Valentine’s Day, 2014.  A day symbolizing a commitment of love and compassion towards animals— inspiring others to do the same.  Since the inception of this program, they have helped over 1,000 animals including: cats, dogs, turtles, birds, bats, horses, sheep, cows, sea lions, goats, rabbits, and more.  All have benefited from an ISF Medical Emergency Grant— giving them an improved quality of life, resulting in a touching success stories.  These animal rescues are now living happier lives with their new families in their forever homes. The testimony of these animals show, that animals have an incredible resilience no matter how difficult the hardship they faced.  They also remind of us of the incredible bond animals establish with humans, despite the suffering they endured, once they found a new and loving family in a safe environment they continue to express love unconditionally.

Animals have an exquisitely poignant way of teaching us, through demonstration, how to love and be loved. We learn compassion, as well as expand our perception of the infinite connection to the environment around us, from our creature friends–whether they are furry and lick us, or slither and swim. We owe it to these creatures to provide protection, healing and love. That is exactly why I am so proud that the IS Foundation has launched our first grant program — the Emergency Medical Grant for Animals – Ian Somerhalder

ISF provides grants to both the US and Canada and works closely with dedicated teams of amazing rescuers in various parts of the US and Canada who are on the front line every day finding animals in need of a better life and urgent care.  These admirable individuals advocate on the behalf of these animals.  Animals that receive an Emergency Medical Grant have been found either, abused, neglected or have suffered a traumatic injury.  ISF reviews applications and typically makes a decision within a week.  They then have the money sent out the following week to the treating veterinarians and rescuers.  The ISF Medical Emergency Grant criteria and eligibility can be found on the ISF website, Grant Information Page.  “The purpose of this grant is to provide animal victims a second chance by alleviating their rescuers of the financial stress of treatment so they can focus on facilitating the animal’s adoption into a permanent, loving home” ISF works with individuals, animal rescuers, veterinarians and non-profit organizations seeking to rescue and rehabilitate animal victims.  (ISF)

The ISF Medical Emergency Grants Program has done an incredible job of bettering the lives of so many animals.  Animals that have had the opportunity to recover and rehabilitate now have wonderful success stories inspiring us all to help protect and care for animals in need.  ISF has established a network of dedicated animal rescuers (grantees) and built amazing relationships with them over the past 2 years.  Their collaboration and teamwork has created a positive impact.  An added bonus, the ISF have met so many loving animals that have greatly benefited from their program.  In instances when the animal in need and the rescuer are near by, the ISF take the opportunity to meet with the animal and rescuer(s).  The ISF have shared a plethora of wonderful heartwarming success stories of the animals they have help give a second chance to. To read their success stories visit their grant success page.  Their dedication to provide resources to assist in bringing a life changing positive impact on the lives of animals that have deeply suffered, inspires us all to work together to be a voice for animal victims that have endured a painful hardship.

Must Love Animals

Below are a few success stories of the ISF Medical Emergency Grant

Meet Elsa

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Photo Credit: Ian Somerhalder Foundation

Meet Ozzy

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Photo Credit: Ian Somerhalder Foundation

Meet Twinkle Toes

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Photo Credit: Ian Somerhalder Foundation

To support the Ian Somerhalder Foundation and stay up-to-date with their projects follow them on Facebook and Twitter or visit their website 

The Cayman Islands: A Haven for Sharks & Rays

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Photo Credit: Ellen Cuylaerts

The Cayman Islands has built its name and reputation primarily on being a renowned diving destination.  Pioneers in our local diving community over the last few decades contributed to building our diving industry into the premier operation that it is today.  They recognized the exquisite beauty our underwater landscape had to offer and have since then made it accessible for locals and tourists to recreationally experience and explore the beauty that lies below the surface for themselves.  With a desire to showcase our natural resources comes with a commitment to preserve them.  Our duty towards conservation for both land and the ocean is beneficial not just from an environmental perspective but also an economic one.  Our tourism industry is strongly tied to our island’s natural resources.  Ergo, an obvious reason to ensure that our natural resources are protected.  Last year on Earth Day (2015), the Cayman Islands officially became a Sharks and Rays Sanctuary.  The sanctuary expands across all three islands.  This is a positive step towards ecotourism as many tourists are keen to visit places that are committed to conservation.

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Photo Credit: Ellen Cuylaerts

 

“I’m extremely grateful that the Cayman Islands recognized the need to make the islands a shark and ray sanctuary. Not only will their protected status benefit the health of the reefs but it’s also a strong statement towards the tourism industry which is an important source of revenue. By protecting our natural resources the Cayman Islands puts itself in the the market of the informed and eco friendly tourist making the right choice for the future generations.” -Ellen Cuylaerts

Sharks in the Water

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Photo Credit: Ellen Cuylaerts

By virtue of us standing by and not acting to protect coral reefs and marine life that are under threat there is a very likely possibility that corals reefs will continue to become degraded and even destroyed.  The caribbean has already lost 80% of its coral reefs.  There is an intricate connection between coral reefs and all marine life.  If keystone species such as sharks continue to decrease in population it will have a tremendous impact on the coral reefs and the marine life that depend on the reefs.  A scary thought that should be racing through everyone’s minds is what if I never see a shark in the water again?  Our fear should be driven by the thought of what will happen to our ocean and the ecosystem if shark populations globally continues to spiral down or worse become extinct.  Sharks are a keystone species and are fundamental to maintaining the health and balance of: coral reefs, marine life and the ocean.  Without their presence there could potentially be a devastating collapse within our fragile ecosystem as their role in keeping our “life support” viable is monumental.  Ultimately, we need a healthy ocean as 70% of the world’s oxygen comes from there.  Healthy shark populations means healthy reefs.  Coral reefs support 1/4 of all marine life.  Healthy reefs means a flourishing population of marine life.  This is beneficial for: our ecosystem, recreational divers, snorkelers and for fisherman.  Balance within our ecosystem is key to benefiting the preservation of the planet, as well as a thriving diving industry, tourism industry and fisherman.

We can’t fail to act to protect our ocean and marine life.  The ocean is often referred to as the heart of the planet.  There seems to be a collective assumption that the ocean is indestructible, that no matter the amount of pollution pumped into the ocean it will always reset itself, that there will always be coral reefs and an abundance of fish, sharks and all marine life.  It is as though we cannot fathom the thought that it could all go away one day.  The reality is the ocean like anything else has its limitations.  We cannot keep testing the ocean’s ability to bounce back.  It is evident that the ocean is under an immense amount stress due to climate change and the rapid decrease in the populations of a multitude of marine species.  For instance, sharks and rays are under threat.  Every year, 70 million sharks are killed for their fins (Fin Free).  In comparison it is reported that targeted Manta Ray populations have declined by an estimated 56% to 88% in recent years (Wild Aid).  With this in mind, there is an urgency for countries around the world to declare their waters as a shark and rays sanctuary.  The more protection coverage of the ocean for sharks and rays will by virtue allow for coral reefs, and fish populations to have time to recover and recuperate.  This is beneficial to everyone.

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Specifically to our waters, current research indicated that we have a lower shark population than expected for a healthy reef ecosystem.  This suggests that our waters need an increase in sharks to ensure our coral reefs can remain healthy.  Shark populations recover over a significant period of time and sanctuaries can provide a safe haven for populations to recuperate.  Presently, there are no comparative ray nor shark surveys specific to our region.  It is difficult to state how our population of sharks and rays compares to other islands in the Caribbean.  However, some research conducted by Marine Conservation International (Research Partners of Department of Environment Cayman Islands) suggests that Cayman’s shark numbers are relatively low in comparison to our Caribbean neighbors.  Notably, numbers will vary from species to species.  However, our waters have a fair population of sharks and rays. Both species are being threatened across the Caribbean and around the world.  Protecting sharks and rays regionally will benefit not only our territory but also on a global scale as it encourages other countries to designate their waters as a sanctuary for these magnificent creatures.  It is evident that the protection of sharks and rays needs to be made as a united effort, and the Cayman Islands is doing their part to help in this initiative.  Now that our waters have been designated as a shark and ray sanctuary there is hope that it  will give our shark population a chance to recover.

A Sanctuary for Sharks, Rays & Coral Reefs

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The sanctuary serves as a haven for our sharks and rays. Our sharks and rays are of great significance to our coral reefs and marine environment both ecologically and economically.  Most importantly their protection is needed to ensure their survival —our ecosystem depends on it.

The sanctuary also serves as a means to benefit our island not only from an ecological standpoint but economically.  The protection of sharks and rays has a direct impact on benefiting our tourism industry.  Sharks are a highlight for divers.  Whereas, rays can be seen in a large school at Stingray City located at the sandbar on the eastern side of Grand Cayman.  Protecting our sharks and rays within our region will not only allow for a positive impact on improving the health of our coral reefs but also it will help to maintain our status as a popular diving destination.  Flourishing reefs serve us ecologically but as an added bonus they are attractive diving spots helping our tourism industry and economy.

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Declaring Cayman waters as a sharks and rays sanctuary is a positive step towards ecotourism and beneficial for our islands.  Countries making a shift towards ecotourism demonstrates that we can find a balance between developing the economy of a country but not at the cost of losing their natural resources.  It is possible to use our natural resources and benefit from them and not destroy them —rather there is an emphasis on the preservation of natural resources as they have intrinsic value.  Specific to Caribbean islands our natural resources are everything to our tourism industry which greatly impacts our economy.  For Cayman, we could look at the ocean as the very soul of our island.  Our culture is bound to the ocean and it is imperative that we continue to move forward in protecting our ocean, coral reefs, marine life and natural environment.  Cayman’s transition into ecotourism has helped to establish the Cayman Islands as setting a positive example for other islands in the Caribbean by way of encouraging other islands to consider becoming a sharks and rays sanctuary to increase the coverage of areas that serve as a haven for them.  While, our waters protect a small percentage of sharks and rays in our region, and is making a positive impact, it would be greatly beneficial if other regional countries made their waters a sanctuary.  Alone, we can make a small difference, but together we can make a much stronger impact.  Protecting the coral reefs, marine life, sharks and rays is a global need.  

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Photo Credit: Ellen Cuylaerts

 

This article was also published in Mission Blue’s Ocean Stories please click here 

Holiday Gift Guide: Holiday Flavours In A Tea Cup

Christmas and the perfect cup of tea goes hand in hand.  Some of the best holiday moments are simple ones— when friends and family come together.  Tea Time in Cayman has premium loose leaf tea available at local tea and coffee hotspots, supermarkets and online.  Their range of loose leaf tea comes in a variety of 36 flavours.  Never underestimate the power of tea— filled with so many health benefits and antioxidants.  During the holiday season, things can get a little bit hectic and sometimes a little bit crazy.  Don’t worry, you won’t crack under pressure with a cup of tea nearby. Tea is well known for helping to reduce stress and help calm one’s mind.  Get ready to bring out your holiday tea set and serve up your friends, family and guests some deliciously festive flavours.  Today, we are sharing our holiday favourite flavours by Tea Time in Cayman.  PS- As part of our Eco Conscious Holiday Gift Guide, we thought these teas make a great gift for the hostess, guests visiting for the holidays and the tea lover. 

Holiday Tea Collection: Tea Time in Cayman

Christmas in Cayman, Fresh Peppermint, Guilty Pleasure – Chocolate Mint, Caramelicious,  Oh Natural – Peppermint, and One 345 Taste of Swanky.  A delightful collection of flavours that capture the essence of the holidays.  

Christmas in Cayman: When it’s finally December and that Christmas Breeze (salty sea breeze) rolls in, you know the holidays are just around the corner.  Swirling with cinnamon and spice, this therapeutic herbal tea is based on a classic, Ayurvedic formula to promote longevity, stamina, balance. 

Oh Natural – Peppermint: A classic holiday flavour, good old fashioned peppermint. After eating a holiday feast, a nice cup of peppermint tea is the best thing ever.  Benefits of pure peppermint tea is said to relax the muscles, ease nausea, headaches and even alleviate bad breath!

Guilty Pleasure – Chocolate Mint: Chocolate and Mint are two must haves during the holidays. This tea is perfect for chocolate lovers.  It also has red tea, rooibos contains exceptionally high levels of flavonoids, which act as antioxidants.  As the name suggests, you don’t have to feel guilty drinking this chocolate flavoured tea. 

Caramelicious: A rich taste of caramel, it doesn’t get any better than this.  It is a lovely tea to serve guests during dessert at your holiday dinner party.  Oolong is known for its many incredible health benefits including boosting your metabolism to help burn fat faster.

Fresh Peppermint: The classic peppermint tea with a boost of green tea.  Perfect to give your metabolism a boost and help relieve heartburn, stomach pain or nausea.  

One 345 Taste of Swanky: A Cayman holiday tradition is a glass of Swanky.  The true definition of “Swanky” is imposingly fashionable and elegant; however, most locals would know this as a traditional Caymanian drink made with Seville oranges and brown sugar. This tea was inspired by the “Swanky Kitchen Band.”

Stay Connected With Tea Time in Cayman

Order Online: https://www.teatimeincayman.ky 

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Facebook, click here 

Resources

Tea Time in Cayman

The Making of a Sustainable Swimsuit with Sage Larock

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” -Rumi

Taryn Larock is the founder of Sustainable Luxury Swimwear by Sage Larock. Their ethos is not sacrificing sustainability for style. Sage Larock is committed to offering ethically made and sustainably sourced sustainable swimwear for women— “We want to dress women who want to change the world” (Sage Larock). Their sustainable luxury swimwear is made from sustainable, recycled or organic materials (non-toxic and plant based dyes) — and ethically made in Los Angles, California. Sustainable fabrics used in the making of their swimwear is made from upcycled swimwear fabric, which is made of recycled fishing nets and plastic debris recovered from the ocean. They also use ECONYL®, regenerated nylon made from waste, to make their swimsuits. Sage Larock is dedicated to using sustainable fashion as a platform to raise ocean awareness, focusing on plastic ocean pollution and abandoned drift nets. Their swimwear is inspired by the love of the ocean and respect for the environment and commitment to ethical fashion. Sage Larock takes pride in their integrity and respect for our oceans and planet. They are committed to working with sustainable materials and suppliers around the globe and hope to incite positive changes in the fashion industry. Their dedication to protecting the ocean expands to their partnership with NGO’s Healthy Seas, Ghost Fishing (Ghost Divers) and Canopy. A percentage of their swimwear sales goes towards helping these NGO’s in their efforts to protect our oceans and rainforest.

Why Does Sustainable Fashion Matter? 

The future of fashion is circular fashion. Sustainable fashion is the way forward. For Sage Larock, their ethically made swimwear tells their story, one that is about a journey of transforming reclaimed ocean plastic waste and fishing nets into fashion. Each swimsuit made from upcycled ocean plastic serves as a reminder that we can all do our part to be proactive and help facilitate positive change towards causes that are close to our hearts. According to a report by UNEP and FAO the 640,000 tonnes of fishing nets are left in our oceans each year. Moreover, “Half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres- the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles- leak into the ocean each year, not only affecting marine life, but, fundamentally, all of us.”- Make Fashion Circular. With this in mind, it is becoming more evident that fashion brands need to take notice of both the impact the fashion industry has on the environment and the escalating issue and growing concern of ocean pollution. Sustainable fashion is not a trend, it is lifelong commitment to creating positive changes, providing a solution to plastic waste and encouraging social responsibility. Eco Fashion is not just a design philosophy but a statement. It encourages transparency of the manufacturing of clothing and brings to attention the great value of providing ethically and sustainably made clothing. Furthermore, it presents a challenge for fashion brands to consider stepping up their game and changing their business model whereby their focus becomes setting standards of sustainability and ethical sourcing.

Interview with Taryn Larock, founder of Sage Larock

1. What is the process involved in making a sustainable swimsuit?

The entire process of sustainable design considers the impact of your product from start to finish has on people, animals, the environment & the planet. We use Oeko-Tex certified fabric that can be upcycled at the end of the swimsuits lifecycle, and we produce ethically & locally in Los Angeles.

I don’t believe you can create sustainable products without taking every step & its possible effects into consideration. What we all need to consider is can something can be considered sustainable that is ethically produced in a factory with fair working conditions, if the fabric contributes to deforestation & habitat destruction, or the fabric is made with chemically intensive dyes that causes birth defects in workers families and pollutes rivers?  There really is so much green washing going on in the fashion industry with brands wanting to appear ‘sustainable’, so it is good for everyone to be educated about this process and what goes into their clothing.

2. Where do you get your inspiration from when designing your collection(s)?

Everywhere actually – we are constantly inspired by vintage photography, architecture, nature. I would say our aesthetic is ‘less is more’ – not necessarily less fabric & showing more skin, but just clean, well cut, minimalistic design that brings out the best in a woman’s figure instead of distracting from it.

3. What interesting fact(s) would surprise people about designing and making sustainable swimwear?

The quality is often better than traditionally made swimwear! I mean that because polyester fabric that most swimwear is made from is made of plastic and it in my opinion does not feel great on your skin and is full of  chemicals. Also, many brands produce in sweat shops, and I don’t believe that someone who is working 14 hour days and is not treated well is going to be able to put the same care & love into making something as someone that loves their work, makes a living wage and has good working conditions. Also, because sustainable fashion is still somewhat new, many people think that because something is sustainable style & quality have to be compromised – but its definitely not true!  We believe in leading with both sustainability and design.

4. How do you source your sustainable materials and why do you choose those particular materials?

We currently use Econyl Okeo-Tex certified upcycled fabric. The world definitely does not need more new plastic being manufactured, as we already have 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic that will never biodegrade floating in our oceans, not to mention what is in landfills or incinerated (which leads to lung disease). Traditional swim & active fabric – polyester – is an incredibly toxic, chemically intensive material that is made from the same petroleum oil based plastic PET as water bottles. If we can up-cycle and use the plastic that is literally already killing our oceans – and therefore our global oxygen supply – why should swimwear or activewear be made by making new plastic? And why would we want those harsh chemicals so close to our skin?

Outside of skinny dipping, or wearing a vintage style cotton swimsuit, up-cycling exciting fishing gear & plastic from our oceans to make our swimwear is the next best option we felt. So we chose a fabric that uses low impact dyes, is made in a environmentally contentious manner, and utilizes existing ocean plastic debris.

5. The Fashion Industry is said to be a major contributor to placing a negative environmental impact on our planet, how does sustainable practices help decrease this negative impact?

The fashion industry is said to be the 3rd most polluting industry on the planet behind oil & animal agriculture – and for what – a t-shirt or dress we will forget in a year or two? Its not at all worth the massive destruction it causes to our Earth, other people’s lives, and other animals. I recently read that the fashion industry also is one of the top industries that relies on slave labor, so all these things need to change. Consumers have an incredible ability to influence this change and power with what they purchase, wear and support. From that perspective it is pretty amazing to be in a time where we as individuals have such a great opportunity to make a difference in what we wear. Its just a matter of deciding what kind of impact we each want to have on the world environment and other people’s lives.

6. What advice would you give to emerging and/or established fashion designer seeking to adopt sustainable practices?

I would say look at how you make things and what you are making them from, and just make sure you are proud of what you are putting out there and how it is produced. Just because everyone else in the industry is doing things in a certain way and it makes money does not mean it is the right or best thing to do. And just start by learning and educating yourself and your employees. I think brands have a responsibility to know what their business practices are and what the effects are from start to finish. No one person or brand is perfect, but we should all at very least be aware of the effects of our actions.

7. What are the greatest benefits of implementing sustainable practices in your business model?

I definitely believe in the inherent benefit of doing something good just for the sake of doing the right thing, or the best you can. I also have seen that the trend of sustainability is only just beginning to grow – so it makes sense in the long run financially as well.

 8. What is a typical day behind the scenes designing and making a sustainable swimsuit like? 

Always different, and never boring!  Some days it is sewing new swimwear and casting models for shoots, but most days it is attending meetings and working on new non-profit alliances, and working on being better at what we do. Our ultimate goal is to be as sustainable as possible while making women feel great about themselves and feel beautiful, so we are always working towards reaching this goal.

 

*Proud Brand Ambassador for Sage Larock.

Photo Credit: Lori- Ann Speirs

Nature is my Gym: 5 Sustainable Essentials For Your Workout

I love a great workout that makes me break a sweat.  There is nothing more satisfying.  Nature is my favourite gym. I love being outdoors.  In the spirit of setting fitness goals and stepping up my game when it comes to workouts, today on the blog we are sharing 5 sustainable essentials for your workout.  This is where sustainable fashion meets the gym.    

1. Reusable Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is imperative when you are doing a workout.  Especially, if nature is your gym, it can get pretty hot outside.  Always have your reusable bottle on standby.   

2. Reef Safe Sunscreen

Hello sunshine! No matter if you are running, holding a plank for 30 seconds or swimming in the ocean, don’t forget to put some sunscreen on.  Living in the Caribbean you can’t help but think about the ocean.  With this in mind, it is important to choose reef safe sunscreen options.  Coola sunscreen is available at Le Visage at Camana Bay. 

3. Sustainable Fashion: Sustainable Swimsuit

 

Who knew swimwear could be so versatile?  This just in, swimsuits make a great workout top.  Great for pilates and yoga.   My personal favourite is sustainable luxury swimwear by Sage Larock.  Their commitment to sustainable fashion and creating ocean awareness is noble.  Sage Larock’s fabulous swimwear is made from recycled ocean plastic debris and drift nets.  Furthermore, “We use only sustainable fabrics such as organic OEKO-TEX® certified cotton, Italian upcycled swimwear fabric, which is made of recycled fishing nets and plastic debris recovered from the ocean, and extra soft hemp jersey, which is grown and produced without any chemicals”(Sage Larock).  Sage Larock is also partnered with NGO HealthySeas.org to give back a percentage of their swimwear sales to help our oceans, and also NGO Canopy to ensure endangered forests are not logged to make clothing (Sage Larock). 

4. Sustainable Fashion: Eco-friendly Leggings 

When it comes to your gym wear it’s all about the leggings. Sustainable Fashion Alert! Your workout wardrobe just got a whole lot cooler.  Sustainable leggings made from recycled plastic bottles are a real game changer.  These super comfy leggings are available at Activ Angel from the  Niyama Sol collection. 

5. Sustainable Fashion: Eco-friendly Sneakers

 

Hit the ground running with these sustainably made sneakers by Parley and Adidas.  Interesting fact, each shoe is made from 11 plastic bottles and recycled materials. Essentially, 95% of each sneaker is made from Parley Ocean Plastic and the remaining 5% is made from recycled polyester.  The inspiration comes from tackling marine plastic pollution such as, removing plastic debris and litter off of beaches, out of the oceans and intercepting plastic before it ends up in the ocean. The plastic bottles and other items collected at beach cleanups is upcycled into recycled materials used to make the shoes. 

 Photo Credit: Lori- Ann Speirs 

NB* Brand Ambassador for Sage Larock.  Brand Ambassador for Activ Angels. 

Miss World Cayman Islands 2018: Kelsie Bodden Be Kind to the Environment

The newly crowned Miss World Cayman Islands, Kelsie Bodden is embarking on a journey of raising environmental awareness during the Miss World competition held in Sanya, China and the Miss World “Beauty with a Purpose” project.  Kelsie’s personal motto is: ‘Go in to the world and do well, but more importantly, go into the world and do good.’  With this in mind, she is doing just that.  Kelsie is using her reign as Miss World Cayman Islands as a platform to work with local environmental non-profit organisations in the Cayman Islands, as well as within the local community to raise awareness about local environmental issues.  Her passion for the environment expands to her personal blog KelsieBodden.com with an all new series, “BE KIND TO OTHERS & BE KIND TO THE ENVIRONMENT,” In the first blog post of this new series, Kelsie discusses her dedication for protecting the environment and the local environmental organisations she has teamed up with alongside Miss World Cayman Islands.  Here is an excerpt from the blog post, “There is only one Earth and we want to be able to enjoy it’s many treasures now and in years to come. Earth provides us with the necessities we need to live. Sometimes we take these resources, like water for granted but its time for us to show mother nature the respect she deserves” (Kelsie Booden).  To read more of her article, click here.  A message that reminds us of the great importance and responsibility we all share in protecting the environment and being environmentally responsible.  There is no planet B, we must take greater care of the planet.  

Prior to winning the Miss World Cayman Islands Pageant 2018, Kelsie along with other Miss World Cayman Islands contestants went on an environmental tour around the Cayman Islands allowing the contestants the opportunity to connect and engage with local conservationists and gain a better understanding of local environmental issues and conservation efforts. Highlights of the tour included special guest speakers: Johanna Kohler from Shark Conservation Cayman, Andrew McGovern from Ambassador of the Environment The Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman (Developed by the legendary Jean-Michel Cousteau), Douglas Cameron and Paul Lankford from The Lodge & Peripheral, and Kafara Augustine from Health City (Conservation and Sustainability practices).  Overall, the contestants had an eye-opening experience learning about shark conservation, coral reefs, plastic waste, plastic upcycling projects, sustainability and conservation.  Kelsie reflected on the environmental tour by saying, “On our environment tour, I quickly learned that we can all be “Ambassadors of the Environment”.  As I listened to all of the presentations (by Eco Diver Reef Foundation, Ambassadors of the Environment by Jean-Michel Cousteau, Shark Conservation Cayman and the Gentlemen of Peripheral) one recurring topic was that Cayman’s ecosystems both on land and our marine life have always been envied by others, with this in mind it is important that we help sustain our uniquely beautiful islands!” A heartfelt message that encourages us to not take our precious ecosystems for granted.  It encourages us to all think of ourselves as “Ambassadors for the environment” whereby we can all actively do our part to help preserve precious ecosystems, protect the environment and work alongside local conservation organisations.  Director of Miss World Cayman Islands, Pamela Ebanks-Small found the eco tour to be “Very informative and opened my eyes what we can be doing.”  

Kelsie Bodden Representing the Cayman Islands at Miss World Pageant 2018

An empowering and inspiring message from Kelsie Bodden. 

Stay Connected with Kelsie Bodden and Miss World Cayman Islands

 

For all things happening with Miss World Cayman Islands and Miss World Cayman Islands 2018 winner Kelsie Bodden join them on social media.

Photo Credits: Miss World Cayman Islands & Kelsie Bodden

Welcome To Sharkphoria

What is Sharkphoria? Sharkphoria is a science based Patreon channel dedicated to creating shark awareness and to share marine biology content through videos. The person behind Sharkphoria and creator of the videos is a marine biologist and shark researcher, Johanna Kohler, based in the Cayman Islands. As part of the non-profit collaboration, Shark Conservation Cayman, Johanna studies the local shark population which is also part of her PhD. Her shark research interests include shark behaviour and ecology, shark reproduction and human-shark conflict mitigation.

By becoming a Sharkphoria Patron, anyone can now step into Johanna’s world and join her on the journey to a PhD in shark research as she is not only sharing fun, science based shark video tutorials, but also exclusive insights and first hand experiences.

Sharks are one of the most misunderstood creatures.  Many people fear sharks as a result of blockbuster movies and sensationalizing media.  Media, which continues to give sharks a negative reputation, doesn’t help.  According to Johanna, sharks are not something to be feared, but rather respected. What is truly terrifying is the paramount decline of shark populations globally and the thought of a future without sharks.  For many shark conservationists, the common goal is to change the public perception of sharks and show them in a new light— highlighting how truly fascinating and important sharks are.  Johanna’s 8 years of experience in shark research and working with sharks together with her undying passion for these animals and her job, make her the perfect shark advocate. If you love sharks or want to learn more about sharks, even if you are scared of sharks, then Sharkphoria is an excellent resource for amazing shark content and marine biology background. 

Watch the Sharkphoria Trailer and Watch the full Welcome Sharkphoria Video here.

 

Love & Support Sharks and Shark Research

Donate towards the cause.  Patreon is a website and crowd-funding platform which makes continued financial support for creators and their projects possible. The idea behind it is that many people add to one pot to directly support individual creators which enables them to continue their work. The goal of Patreon is not the once-off donation of large sums but rather smaller, consistent financial support to keep a project alive. The payment may be for a video, song or short story depending on the creator. Johanna is creating videos for Sharkphoria Patrons. Her different tier options provide different benefits in addition to the paid post (i.e. video). Check out her tier options, there is something for every wallet with lots of different perks.

An Interview with Johanna Kohler

  1. What does Sharkphoria stand for?

Sharkphoria the combination of the words “shark” and “euphoria”. I made it up. It’s my word for the joyful feeling I get deep inside when I see a shark.

  1. What kind of content can viewers expect?

Become a shark expert! Sharkphoria is a science based Patreon channel that lets you step into my world of shark research by becoming a Patron. Ever wondered what it is like to be a marine biologist, a shark researcher or just want to know more about sharks and the ocean? 

With 8 years of experience I’m creating educational and fun content revolving around sharks, research, diving, the marine environment and my PhD journey. There will be tutorials, field trip expeditions, vlogs and much more.

  1. What inspired you to start this project?

My vision for the channel is to provide high quality, informative content to the Patrons. I see Patreon less as a donation platform and more as an opportunity for everyone to subscribe to university level content for a small donation. Doctorate degrees often include a teaching component and I consider this a good opportunity for me to share my knowledge. 

I’m German and started out as dive instructor. I did my undergraduate at the University of Cape Town (marine biology | oceanography). For 3 years I’m based in the Cayman Islands where I work for Shark Conservation Cayman. People ask me questions about marine biology, the ocean, fisheries, sharks, shark research and field trips all the time. 

Many are interested in the marine environment, even when they don’t live near the ocean, and want to know how it all works but not everyone wants/is able to take the route to go to university and study marine biology. It is however important for us that did, to share our knowledge with the public in order to do effectively work and conserve the marine environment, including sharks. 

Via the Sharkphoria channel, everyone is able to become a marine biology and shark expert. It doesn’t matter where you are, whether you live by the sea or inland, no matter what your job is, whether you are in school or working in an office, the videos are online and accessible worldwide. The public perception is the biggest challenge we face in (shark) conservation. We need to work together. Sharkphoria via Patreon allows me to that! 

  1. How is my patronage helping sharks?

For less than the price of a cup of coffee per video you get access to university level shark and marine biology content and to conserve sharks. First of all, by subscribing and helping me to continue my work you not only educate yourself but others as well. Raising awareness and outreach helps sharks.

But it doesn’t stop there. By signing up you are supporting my scientific work as well. The research funding doesn’t cover my living expenses therefore I need your help to continue with the research and conservation efforts. 

  1. What is your PhD thesis on?

My PhD thesis is on the behaviour and relative abundance of sharks in the Cayman Islands with special reference to the Caribbean reef shark. The Caribbean reef shark is endemic to our region which makes the population more vulnerable and research, to understand their population dynamics, of high priority.

  1. What is your favourite shark?

Tiger shark – They are incredible. They are the fourth largest shark, they travel super long distances and their teeth have a funky shape. Oh and I love their pattern, simply stunning!

  1. What’s your vision after your PhD?

After the PhD, I’ll continue to follow my passion to study sharks and to share my knowledge with others in return. My goal is to use our research to develop better ways to protect sharks and the marine environment so future generations are able to benefit from and enjoy the ocean like we all do now.

  1. What is your favourite or most memorable shark experience?

This is hard, every shark experience is a great memory. I guess the most impactful experience was my first ever shark encounter. I was snorkeling in Australia when two large bull sharks showed up. It changed my life forever! 

Resources

Johanna Kohler

Shark Conservation Cayman

Sharkphoria

Sharkwater Extinction Review

We are honoured to have a guest post written by Julia Barnes.

I was a little nervous to watch Sharkwater Extinction. I knew it would make me emotional. Rob Stewart has been my hero since I was 12. Losing him was devastating and I didn’t want to relive his death. But I was also excited to see his new film, so I attended the premier at TIFF. Hearing his voice and seeing him on the screen, I found myself smiling all the way through. Sharkwater Extinction is not a sad film. It is overwhelmingly inspiring, filled with Rob’s passion and energy. It’s a film that will make you realize you can change the world.

Rob’s voice is a constant throughout the movie. His narration guides you through the story as he and his team investigate the trade in endangered shark species, uncovering corruption, deception, and mafia rings. There are plenty of dangerous, heart-pounding moments. At one point Rob goes into a ship’s freezer, alone, with a camera, to film piles of dead sharks. It would have been too easy for someone to close the lid on him and lock him in the freezer. Later, when Rob is filming driftnet fishing in California the fishermen start shooting at him and his crew. 

Rob risked his life again and again for sharks, motivated by a deep love of this misunderstood species which comes clear in moments of stunning cinematography and close, intimate interactions between Rob and the sharks. In this film, Rob shows you the softer, gentler side of sharks. He lets you see how they can be playful and shy.

Some of the most beautiful scenes include Rob freediving with great hammerheads, his favourite species, and oceanic whitetips, sharks who have a reputation for being one of the most dangerous. His peaceful encounters demonstrate that sharks are not the monsters the media has portrayed them to be. 

Although Rob changed the perception of sharks with the original Sharkwater and inspired many people to fight for them, sharks are facing more threats now than ever. Sharks are being renamed and fed to us, they’re being added to products like cosmetics, fertilizers, pet foods, and livestock feed. In Sharkwater Extinction Rob goes to a grocery store and finds shark in 30% of the products he tests genetically. He also finds that even products which are labeled as “shark” are not forthcoming about which species it is. 

Over 150 million sharks are being killed every year. Sharks don’t have much time before they face extinction. These beautiful predators are crucial to the ocean ecosystem. Sharks have kept the ocean in balance for 450 million years. Now, their future depends on us. 

Sharkwater Extinction is a rallying call to action, infused with Rob’s optimism and his belief that everyone can be a hero for a species they love. Rob is proof that one person can make a difference. His footage has already lead to the banning of drift nets in California. Now it’s up to us to take on Rob’s mission and create a world that’s beautiful for all species. 

Guest Article by Julia Barnes

Julia Barnes is the award-winning filmmaker behind Sea of Life. For as long as she can remember Julia has been passionate about the natural world, but it wasn’t until she was 16 that she realized the world she loved was in serious jeopardy. After watching Rob Stewart’s documentary Revolution and learning that the world’s coral reefs, rainforests and fish are expected to be wiped out by the middle of the century she was compelled to take action. Film was the most powerful weapon she could imagine so she picked up a video camera and set out to make a documentary to raise awareness about the biggest threats facing the ocean. Julia is continues to work on new environmental documentaries and short films.