Jasmin Graham Wants More People of Color in Shark Sciences

‘People have different relationships with the ocean … why wouldn’t you want to hear from them about how to protect it?’ — Jasmin Graham wants more diversity in shark sciences as ocean conservation becomes more urgent. » Subscribe to NowThis Earth: https://go.nowth.is/Earth_Subscribe » Sign up for our newsletter KnowThis to get the biggest stories of the day delivered straight to your inbox: https://go.nowth.is/KnowThis For more climate crisis news, stories on environmental issues, and world news, subscribe to NowThis Earth. #Shark #Wildlife #MarineBiology #Earth #Environment #Science #NowThis This video "Jasmin Graham Wants More People of Color in Shark Sciences", first appeared on https://nowthisnews.com/.

Video Transcript

JASMIN GRAHAM: It's pretty stark how incredibly white the field of shark science is.

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If you have diversity in scientists, you also have diversity in life experiences, and diversity and ideas and thoughts, and that's how innovation happens.

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I was just hooked. I mean, you've got to respect something that's been around for hundreds of millions of years and has survived multiple mass extinction events. That tells you that they're something special.

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It's really important to remember, yes, they've been around for millions of years, but they also evolve extremely slowly. And so whenever the climate and the situation of the ocean changes rapidly, like it's been changing in recent years due to anthropogenic or man-made causes, then they can't evolve fast enough to keep up.

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You've got the acidity of the ocean changing, you've got the temperature changing. That means that all of these animals have to shift their ranges. They have to change where they live because the areas where they're adapted to live are warmer or colder than they are supposed to be. And if their prey source doesn't move with them, then they're out of food. So there's a lot of animals that obviously can't move because they can't travel.

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We have over 300 different sharks and rays that are listed as endangered or critically endangered. There's only, you know, around 1,000 species, and 300 of them are listed as endangered? That's a large percentage. And we're seeing some species go extinct before we even figure out what they are. You know, we name a species and then we discover, oh, there's not that many left of them.

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In shark science, unfortunately, it's very male-dominated. All of the positions, the high-positions, the senior-level positions, all of the principal investigators, the people that you see on Shark Week, the people giving all of these talks and presentations are still men. And then if you specifically look at the racial breakdown, it's pretty stark how incredibly white the field of shark science is. And there's a lot of reasons for that, which we're trying to tackle with Minorities in Shark Sciences.

If we are excluding people from low-income communities, we don't get that input. How is this policy going to affect people that are in a lower socioeconomic status? It's also really important to have people from different racial and cultural communities because people have different relationships with the ocean and with animals, particularly Indigenous communities. Indigenous communities were here for thousands of years and were excellent stewards of the marine environment. So, why wouldn't you want to hear from them about how to protect it?

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There's a tendency in marine conservation to demonize people trying to make a living, to demonized fishers that are just trying to catch fish to survive. So it turns into this, well, you can't fish here because we need to protect it. OK, but are you going to give them an alternative? Because they need to eat, and that's what they eat. So those are things that people that have lived in privilege and have never had to depend on those sorts of resources-- they'll write that off. They won't consider that.

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We should just work together in the first place to make a policy that everyone agrees with, so then we don't have to spend extra money enforcing the policy, because people will feel that it's fair and they will do it on their own.

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It's kind of like playing Jenga. You remove one really important block, the whole tower comes crumbling down. Nature has evolved this perfect balance of animals where there's not too many of one thing because there's something that eats that thing. And that is basically nature's perfect balance, and it's a way that it keeps everything in check.

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