30th August Bangkok, Thailand – In honor of International Whale Shark Day, WildAid is releasing a short documentary called “Sharing oceans with Sharks”, starring ‘Pong’ Nawat Kulrattanarak, actor and WildAid ambassador for sharks. Pong Nawat takes viewers on a journey to Isla Mujeres, an island off the coast of Cancun, Mexico to witness one of the largest whale shark congregations and discover how locals are making efforts to reverse decades of overfishing with sustainable fishery and eco-friendly shark tourism.
Nawat ‘Pong’ Kulrattanarak, known for his lead roles in Thailand and in Chinese television dramas, is an active diver with a strong passion to protect ocean wildlife, especially sharks. “It was a breathtaking experience. They are gigantic and friendly. It felt like I was swimming alongside submarines. I was inspired to see local fishermen adopt new livelihoods such as leading trips for tourists to see sharks in the ocean instead of hunting them,” said Nawat Kulrattanarak.
In 2009, Mexico took a bold stand and decided to protect the roughly 1,400 whale sharks that migrate through its waters every year. Local fishermen joined in, replacing their longlines for tourist guide boats. “We see shifting from shark fishing to tourism as a positive alternative to shark fishing, but we have to give this time to evolve,” said Ricardo Ramirez, a local shark fisherman.
Currently, shark populations around the Gulf of Mexico are declining, as they are in many parts of the world. Yet, very little is known about sharks in this area. Our short documentary showcases how local fishermen are helping to solve this problem. The fishermen are seen helping researchers put a GPS tag on a Tiger shark to track its behavior as one of the ways to improve shark conservation measures and support shark diving activities for tourists, which will ultimately benefit the fishermen that also work as tour guides.
“In order to have a successful shark diving adventure, we need to know a little bit more about the sharks. Where they are moving, where they are, if they are here seasonally or if they live here permanently. So, we tag them by placing a little GPS tag on their fins” said Luis Lombardo, Director, Saving Our Sharks.
Since 2018, ‘Pong’ Nawat Kulrattanrak has been a vocal advocate for the “Celebrate with #NoSharkFin #ฉลองไม่ฉลาม” campaign which calls on the public to forgo shark fin at all celebratory events, such as weddings, family celebrations and business meetings. This documentary is an important part of our ongoing effort to reduce the demand for shark consumption and inform the public of different measures that have been introduced in other parts of the world to protect sharks.
“My journey showed me that there is still hope for shark conservation and every action matters. We must do our part by saying no to shark fin and call for better protection of sharks in Thailand. We need to protect the environment for the future of our children. It is our responsibility,” added Nawat Kulrattanarak.
The short documentary was released on WildAid Thailand’s social media platforms (or watch below) and was also live-streamed during an online chat session with Nawat Kulrattaranarak hosted by Happy Nancy, an eco-friendly travel blogger and divemaster on WildAid Thailand’s Facebook and YouTube page.
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WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect wildlife from illegal trade and other imminent threats. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $308 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too.
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