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SWFL foundation launches Shark Conservation Campaign during ‘Shark Week’

Researchers want to teach people in Southwest Florida just how important large sharks are to the ecosystem here.

Cast About Charters Capt. Ben Biery isn’t afraid to reel in one of those large sharks. “I always think it’s really exciting to catch big hammerhead.”

Biery makes sure to practice what he preaches when it comes to protecting the ocean’s top predators.

“Don’t keep it out of the water long. Never pull big sharks out of the water. Their skeletal structure isn’t made to support their weight,” Biery said.

Ryan Orgera, CEO of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF), wants people to know fighting with a shark hurts them as much as it may hurt you. “The longer you fight with a shark, the higher the chances are the shark will die after catch and release.”

That’s why Orgera and others who work at the SCCF are launching the Shark Conservation Campaign. It’s not a coincidence that they did so during “Shark Week.”

“Our whole goal is to educate people on why sharks matter, why we have to treat them better, and why they’re so important to our ecosystems,” Orgera said.

Orgera’s other focus is to change people’s perception of sharks.

“Our fear of sharks is not statistically founded. Last year, 2019, two people globally died from shark attacks,” he said. “They’re actually not these crazy tough animals, they can actually be hurt really easily if you don’t handle them properly.”

He’s advocating to protect the ocean’s top predator. “Sharks really aren’t that scary. They’re not out to get us.”

According to the SCCF, there have been eight documented shark bites on Sanibel since 1958 and none of them have been deadly.

Reporter:Taylor Petras
Writer:Drew Hill
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