Author Esther Jacobs Overbeeke

Esther Jacobs is a shark conservationist, originally from Scotland, now living in South Africa working with sharks and other marine life. Esther works with Oceans Research (www.oceans-research.com), a marine research facility in Mossel Bay, South Africa and runs a shark conservation campaign called Keep Fin Alive (www.keepfinalive.com), which features a hand puppet shark called Fin, who is on a mission to be photographed with as many people as possible holding a sign that says “I hugged a shark and I liked it… Keep Fin Alive”. Fin has already been photographed with lots of celebrities and scientists. The ultimate goal of the campaign is to take a light-hearted approach to help change the common misconception of sharks and drive more attention to the problems of shark overfishing, finning, shark fishing tournaments, bycatch and longlining.

Every diver understands the draw of the ocean, and most crave the next dive just moments after exiting the water. It’s a beautiful wonderland, with incredible fauna and flora inhabitants. However, the oceans are in peril and there’s one offender at the forefront of these issues… plastic. Recent studies, carried out by University of Exeter, have confirmed that microplastics were found in the digestive systems of every every single turtle, whale, dolphin and seal they tested. Much of the plastic was believed to be pieces of fishing gear, fibres from clothing, broken down cigarette filters, and others. It’s heartbreaking to…

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Dr Nathan Hart is an expert in comparative neurobiology and specialises in animal sensory systems. He completed his PhD on colour vision in birds at the University of Bristol, UK, before moving Australia in 1999. He’s since worked on the visual systems of various animals, and more recently has been working with sharks. We interviewed him about his very interesting career history.

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Charles Klingler, from Maryland, US, works as a fisheries observer in various locations around the USA. He’s spent four months interning with us at Oceans Research in South Africa, so we took the opportunity to interview him about fisheries observation and management. Charles also delivered a presentation on fisheries management at a public ocean conservation evening while he was in South Africa.

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Paul von Blerk specializes in electronic shark repellents with the Kwazulu-Natal Sharks Board Maritime Centre of Excellence. He’s worked with the Shark’s Board for 34 years, and for the last couple of decades, he’s dedicated his life to creating and testing an alternative, eco-friendly system that keeps both bathers and sharks safe. Throughout April, Oceans Research assisted Paul in testing an electronic device on our Mossel Bay white sharks, with incredible results.

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Dr Ryan Kempster is a shark biologist and founder of the non-profit organisation Support Our Sharks (SOS). He obtained his B.Sc. (2005) and M.Sc. (2007) in marine biology in the UK, and went on to complete a Ph.D. at the University of Western Australia (UWA) in the sensory biology of sharks. Dr Kempster recently spent a month with Oceans Research working on his shark deterrent project.

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