Gabriella Mc Murtrie walks the talk! She joined us for International Coastal Cleanup Day at Melkbosstrand on 19 September. Photo by Ingrid Sinclair

It’s not every day that you hear of a nine-year-old who uses words like “overfishing” and “finning” and who confidently grapples with complex ideas like population decline and future outcomes of current behavior. It's also rare to hear about a young person who takes initiative and tries to galvinise the kids around her.

But Gabriella Mc Murtrie, a grade 3 pupil at Parklands College in Cape Town, did just that with a poster set she created and circulated amongst her peers.

Poster by Gabriella Mc Murtrie
Poster by Gabriella Mc Murtrie

According to Samantha, Gabriella’s mom, Gabriella “has always been fascinated with sharks and recently read an article on how many sharks are being killed every year. She was so upset that she made a poster on her iPad and emailed it to everyone in her class and asked them to forward it on. She also made a 'Save the Sharks' petition.”

You’d think sharks and schoolgirls are an odd fit, but Gabriella sees no reason to be scared.

At International Coastal Cleanup Day, Gabriella found this mermaid's purse on the beach. Naturally, she correctly identified it straight away. Photo by Ingrid Sinclair

“I love sharks because they are very graceful and are very pretty and I think that they are the most beautiful and interesting creatures and that we should try learn more about them instead of killing and hurting them,” she says.

Wisdom beyond her years, yes, but isn’t it astounding that so many grown-ups have yet to shift their mindset when it comes to sharks?

Here at the Two Oceans Aquarium we feel so encouraged when we learn about young environmentalists like Gabriella who share our vision: Abundant and healthy oceans for life. And it’s even more heartening to know that Gabriella is helping us with our mission: To inspire action for the future well being of our oceans.

Thank you Gabriella for taking action. You are an inspiration!

Rethink the shark

As a public aquarium dedicated to marine education and conservation, the Two Oceans Aquarium aims to inform the public of the role of sharks in the oceans and the importance of the larger species as apex predators.

A ragged-tooth shark in the I&J Predator Exhibit. Photo by Ingrid Sinclair

One of our main focus areas is on changing people’s perceptions and attitudes towards sharks and putting shark attacks in perspective. With regards to the fishing of sharks we support the world-wide call for sustainable shark fisheries. We urge governments to:

  • regulate and monitor shark fisheries
  • implement heavy penalities for non-compliance
  • ban shark finning
  • insist on the landing of entire shark carcasses; and
  • fund ongoing research to further understand sharks and assess shark populations.

And we urge you and your parents, your nephews, nieces, your aunts and uncles, and your parents, to talk about the threats facing sharks today (ie, humans). 

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