Director of the Shark Trust Paul Cox tells us about his encounter with a Walrus in Svalbard and how the great Sylvia Earle inspired him to become a conservationist
After an Easter break full of chocolaty delights, Under The Spotlight returns with Director of The Shark Trust, Paul Cox.
Paul has been with the Trust for 3 years and has been focusing on expanding their network and driving positive change for sharks. Paul is constantly on the lookout for new partners, supporters and donors as well seeking innovative ways to fund the charity.
"We can all #DoSomeFin for these amazing creatures - what about you?"
Lets see what else Paul had to say as he went, Under The Spotlight...🔦
I grew up in the country and spent much of my childhood exploring the outdoors, but my experience of the sea was limited to playing on the beach and splashing around in the shallows. When I was 20, I went travelling in Israel and Egypt and had my first snorkelling experience which blew my mind. When I returned I got locked into an office job but I started learning more about marine life through TV and books. The turning point came when I read "Sea Change" by Sylvia Earle . By the time I finished the book, I'd committed to getting involved in marine conservation. I left my job at 28, went back to University and I've worked in marine biology and conservation ever since.
It would be to change the part of every human brain that makes us think "what difference does it make?" Whether good or bad, tiny little things that each of us do can make a difference to the future health of the planet. It's in our hands but I think we can all be a bit disconnected at times.
Honestly? I'm not sure it's worth the effort. On every issue there are people at the extreme ends of opinion. Once someone has adopted a strong position it's virtually impossible to convince them to change. "Rational" scientists too often think they can convince people with facts...and more facts. Evidence suggests otherwise. So I would say focus on the middle ground and use a variety of persuasive techniques. Most of all, I'm a big advocate of positive messaging. Doom and gloom stories of loss and impending disaster have a limited appeal. Talking about conservation successes and sharing stories of wonder will help to build a support base.
I was lucky enough to tag along on a research trip to Svalbard about 10 years ago. We spent 5 days on a boat in a Kongsfjord observing and filming scientists from the Norwegian Polar Institute. On the last day, we went out on a RIB for a look around and as we cut the engines for one of our stops, a huge Walrus emerged out of the water about 10m from our boat. It rose up 4 or 5 times, had a good look at us and then disappeared. We just stood there, mouths open, until it had gone. Then we realised that, surrounded by cameras and filming equipment, no-one had captured a single shot. It definitely happened though...honestly.
That's a tough one. As she set me on this path, I have to acknowledge Sylvia Earle - who I had the great pleasure of meeting 10 years after her book changed my life. But as a communicator, I think I'd have to say David Attenborough. Not only is he incredibly knowledgable and a natural storyteller, his passion shines through. There is a brilliant clip of him when he encounters a Blue Whale in Blue Planet - it's just a moment of pure joy and I'd defy anyone (even Donald Trump!) not to be inspired by it.
Twitter: @SharkTrustUK @TrustCoxi
Facebook: The Shark Trust
Fiona Ayerst - Blue Shark
Andrew Bellamy - Oceanic Whitetip & Pilot Fish
Sign up to our weekly digest of interesting things we've found in conservation around the world.
Expect one email per week and no spam.