By Jen Jones, GCT and Dr Alex Hearn, MigraMar
When we launched the Crowdfunder for our very first Galapagos storybook, Marti the Hammerhead Shark, at the beginning of 2019, we had no idea what to expect. We want to thank you for your support in making this project a success – it has been a great year for Marti in Galapagos!
Marti’s story is based on science that MigraMar, supported by GCT, has been involved with for many years, tracking the journeys of sharks from their nursery areas in Galapagos to the seamounts of the Pacific Ocean. Although the Galapagos Marine Reserve is well protected, many marine species are highly migratory and are vulnerable to threats such as industrial fishing outside of the Reserve boundaries. Under GCT’s Endangered Sharks of Galapagos Programme, our goal is to form a protected ‘Swimway’ between the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador and Cocos Island, Costa Rica – to protect animals taking the very journey that Marti’s story is based on.
Storytelling is a great way to engage people with science and conservation, inspiring environmentally conscious behaviour. The book holds an important role in raising the profile of this globally significant research and inspiring people to engage in shark and marine conservation. Marti has proved popular with local students and their families.
Throughout 2019, we managed to print 1,000 books for children throughout the Islands, which proved popular with both children and families. Community engagement has been overwhelmingly positive, with 300 local residents attending the book’s launch. Furthermore, our partners, the Galapagos Science Center, have delivered 12 educational sessions in schools on San Cristobal island. We have also developed a range of educational activities in English and Spanish to further engage children internationally in shark conservation. The storybook has even picked up some celebrity fans, including world-renowned marine biologist Dr Sylvia Earle!
During 2020, we will continue to work with schools and outreach groups in Galapagos, mainland Ecuador and Costa Rica to spread Marti’s message and communicate the benefits of marine protected areas.
The Galapagos storybook is just one component of GCT’s Galapagos Oceans Outreach Programme. The overarching aim of the programme is to raise awareness of conservation issues through school and community engagement, but also to provide practical opportunities for engaging local people in conservation science and research on the Islands
We look forward to sharing more Marti updates with you in 2020! You can purchase your own copy of Marti the Hammerhead Shark: A Galapagos Journey storybook from our shop. Alternatively, you can donate towards our Endangered Sharks of Galapagos programme here to help protect hammerheads and other shark species within and outside the Galapagos Marine Reserve.