Ocean Defender Hawaii Interview: Protecting Sharks

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  • Author: Sierra Grice
  • Press: Shark Magazine
  • Date: Saturday, 15 September 2012

Ocean Defender Hawaii is a company that was started with the goal of making people care about the amazing and beautiful creatures of the ocean. Their belief is that once people begin to care, they will be more likely to help prevent the destruction of marine resources.

Oriana Kalama, founder of Ocean Defender Hawaii, believes passionately that we should be protecting the ocean and the creatures that live in it. The 15 years that Kalama spent working on boats in Maui allowed her to view different species up close, and to create a personal relationship with them. Since it began, Ocean Defender has been actively participating in the protection of the ocean. They have helped to pass bills that protect precious species, and have expanded the awareness of similar issues.

Kalama sits down with Sierra Grice, a Washington State journalist and shark enthusiast, to answer a few questions about Ocean Defender, and the impact that people can have on the safety and protection of sharks.

Ocean Defender seems to be more interested in respecting sea life and simply observing it, as opposed to trying to figure it out through scientific measures. How do you feel about those that interact with sea life, sometimes aggressively, in an attempt to further our understanding?


When we started our movement we had realized that the main reason why the world had so many problems was because we lacked of love and compassion not only for our planet but for the animals and people who share it with us. We realized that it would be hard to defend something or someone that you didn't know. So we decided to show the world the beauties of the ocean so they could help them in the future.

We think that interaction between human and ocean creatures should be done in a passive way. There are many creatures that could be hurt by human touch, but there are others that are not. Take the example of the shark. We were conditioned to think that these are ocean monsters; sea creatures that eat people. This is not true. Sharks are crucial for the health and balance of the ocean since they eat the sick and diseased, leaving the healthiest alive.

Our recent pictures of the interactions between humans and sharks were a great eye opener in Ocean Defenders opinion. Granted, these divers have created long-term relationships with these creatures. We have so much to learn from the creatures of the ocean, and we are barely scratching at the surface.


In recent years, there has been study on whether human interaction with sharks has made them more aggressive. Have you seen evidence of this?


We don't have evidence of that, at least not here in Hawaii. What we do have evidence of, is the decrease in fish in our waters, and the increasing amount of humans in the ocean.


There has been a lot of exposure regarding the finning of sharks for food. How do you think we, as a caring population, can best prevent this from happening?


The best we can do in regards to shark finning, is to inform and educate as many people as we can about it. We need to inform our local elected officials that shark finning is not only a cruel practice, but it's affecting the health of our oceans worldwide. We need to ask them to ban the trade and possession of any shark products.

If we all act locally we will have an effect globally. Hawaii was the first state in the USA to ban shark fin soup and the trade of all shark products. After us, many states have followed. We would like to see every state in the USA free of shark products. That would be a great victory for our sharks!

We also like to encourage Ocean Defender members to stop purchasing dietary supplements and beauty products that contain shark cartilage. This is easy and it helps tremendously. Just read the label behind every product you use, if you see shark cartilage then please don't buy it.


For more information on Oriana Kalama, and Ocean Defender Hawaii, visit their website at www.oceandefenderhawaii.com

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