A Gift for Sharks: Sherman's Lagoon Cartoonist Jim Toomey Delivers Thousands of Anti- Shark-Finning Letters to NOAA Fisheries Administrator

Dec 20, 2010, 08:45 ET from Aquarium of the Bay

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 20, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Armed with more than 3,600 individualized letters from Aquarium of the Bay visitors, calling for international bans on shark finning, Sherman's Lagoon creator Jim Toomey will deliver the letters to NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Eric Schwaab in Washington, DC this Tuesday.  Following the delivery, Schwaab will discuss the efforts that NOAA is leading to conserve sharks.

"Promoting awareness of shark conservation is not an easy task. A single shark-related incident anywhere in the world will quickly become international news," says Sherman's Lagoon creator Jim Toomey.  "Through my comic strip character, Sherman, I've tried to dispel the myth that sharks are pests that have no ecological value.  This write-in campaign from Aquarium of the Bay is further proof that people everywhere are beginning to understand the ecological value that sharks provide to our oceans and our planet."

"NOAA Fisheries would like to thank the thousands of kids who sent letters expressing concern for sharks," said Eric Schwaab, NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries. "Sharks are such incredible creatures, and NOAA scientists and fishery managers are working hard to learn as much as they can about them and to protect them, so they will continue to be valuable members of our ocean ecosystems."

Aquarium of the Bay collected the letters, many embellished with hand-drawn artwork, in the action station of this summer's Sherman's Lagoon: Finning Isn't Funny exhibit.  Toomey partnered with the Aquarium to develop the exhibit, which featured the artist's shark finning-focused comics.

"Shark finning is an incredibly important issue affecting the future of sharks in our oceans," said Christina J. Slager, director of husbandry at Aquarium of the Bay.  "It's great that so many of our guests are opposed to this barbaric and unsustainable practice."

Shark finning is a widespread and largely unmanaged fishing practice that has spurred a multi-billion dollar industry. After having their fins cut off, the sharks are often tossed back into the sea still alive, where they die a slow death. Scientists estimate that many shark populations are declining dramatically, some by as much as 95%. Worldwide, shark specialists estimate that 100 million sharks are killed for their fins every year.

About Aquarium of the Bay

Aquarium of the Bay is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit marine nature center affiliated with The Bay Institute.  The Aquarium is dedicated to creating experiences that inspire conservation of San Francisco Bay and its watershed. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and certified as Green Business by the city of San Francisco. Additional information on Aquarium of the Bay is available at www.aquariumofthebay.org, and on The Bay Institute at www.bay.org.

Available Topic Expert(s): For information on the listed expert(s), click appropriate link.

Christina Slager


SOURCE Aquarium of the Bay