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Intrn’l Video: Mexican conservationists work with shark fishermen to make Mexico a shark sanctuary

LatinaLista — According to Wikipedia:

The marine pelagic environment is the largest aquatic habitat on earth, occupying 1,370 million cubic kilometres (330 million cubic miles), and is the habitat for 11 percent of known fish species.

Marine pelagic fish can be divided into coastal (inshore) fish and oceanic (offshore) fish. Coastal fish inhabit the relatively shallow and sunlit waters above the continental shelf, while oceanic fish (which may well also swim inshore) inhabit the vast and deep waters beyond the continental shelf.

Pelagic fish range in size from small coastal forage fish, such as herrings and sardines, to large apex predator oceanic fishes, such as the Southern bluefin tuna and oceanic sharks.

They are usually agile swimmers with streamlined bodies, capable of sustained cruising on long distance migrations. The Indo-Pacific sailfish, an oceanic pelagic fish, can sprint at over 110 kilometres per hour. Some tuna species cruise across the Pacific Ocean. Many pelagic fish swim in schools weighing hundreds of tonnes. Others are solitary, like the large ocean sunfish weighing over 500 kilograms, which sometimes drift passively with ocean currents, eating jellyfish.

Off its shores, Mexico is teeming with “pelagic fish.” The aqua wonderland has been captured on film by the Mexico City-based conservation group Pelagic Life or Protección y Conservación Pelágica AC​.

The mission of Pelagic Life has been to make people aware of the beauty of life that exists below the surface of coastal waters by creating high-impact conservation projects like documentaries, coffee table photo books, mobile apps and now — helping shark hunters develop an alternative business.

While busily filming another documentary celebrating the beauty of underwater life, members of Pelagic Life met the shark fishermen of a remote fishing village in Baja who had created their own makeshift shark fishing operation. The encounter inspired the team to do something they had never done before — help the shark fisherman create a sustainable business that would allow them to make a living but also preserve the marine ecosystem.

The team made a deal with the fishermen — the conservationists would pay the fishermen for each shark they hooked that was still alive. The goals of the arrangement were threefold: earn the trust of the fishermen, create higher awareness about sharks among the locals and give live sharks a higher value.

The eventual goal is to help the shark fishermen become entrepreneurs and conservationists by developing an eco-tourism business where the fishermen would become dive operators. The long-range goal of the organization is for Mexico to become a shark sanctuary.

This unexpected journey by the Pelagic Life team into creating a business has been dubbed “The Call of the Shark.” To keep people informed about the progress of the project, the team is relasing video vignettes coyly titled the “Shark Diaries.” The videos show how the team is working with the shark fishermen while saving the seven species of shark native to the waters near the fishing village.

The Shark Diaries’ footage is part of the larger documentary titled Mexico Pelagico chronicling the story of the shark fishermen, which the organization hopes will inspire more people to be aware of Mexico’s marine life and learn to not only respect it but defend it as well.

The filmmakers are currently crowdfunding to finish the documentary, which they hope to release to the public by summer 2014.

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