WWF-Canada Blog:

“Dear general shark scientists of the world”

By Jarrett Corke, Shark Project Coordinator, WWF-Canada

For as long as I can remember, sharks have been my passion. Whether it’s reading about them or diving with them, these animals have dominated my psyche.

Over the past year, I’ve been working at WWF-Canada on shark conservation in Halifax, Nova Scotia, tackling the most pressing issues for Atlantic sharks. So when I received an envelope last week addressed to Mr. Jarrett Corke with the words “To the General Shark Scientists of the World” written in pencil along the edge, I was intrigued.

A Thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus) is fatally caught in a fishing net, Mexico. © Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF

Inside were two letters, both typed, along with 10 hand-drawn signs addressed to different countries around the world that read “Save the Sharks. No fishing”. I read the first letter. Written by the father of an exceptional young boy by the name of Jack Titterrell from Bowmanville, Ontario, the letter explained that his son had taken it upon himself to create these signs in the hopes of spreading his message – save the sharks. The second letter, dictated by Jack to his father, explained why he thinks people should take more care to avoid the unnecessary killing of sharks.

Jack’s reasons included:

1) “Sharks are endangered and I want them to survive.” Sharks and their relatives are among the most threatened marine vertebrates on Earth. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), close to half of the sharks found in Canadian waters are considered globally threatened.

2) “Sharks are nature and swim so fast.” Sharks play an important role in the marine ecosystem helping to maintain healthy oceans and life on earth. And, sharks are FAST! The Shortfin Mako Shark, an open ocean sprinter, is one of the fastest fish in the ocean achieving bursts of speed upwards of 80 km/h! By swimming so fast, they are also able to leap 15 to 20 feet from the water!

3) “If they don’t survive, they will become extinct.” Even before dinosaurs roamed the earth, sharks hunted our oceans. Although no species are known to have become extinct, shark populations are facing unprecedented declines. In some places, such as the Northwest Atlantic, shark species are estimated to have declined between 50 to 90% in the past few decades.

Jack is right to be concerned. Sharks are in trouble and they need our help. The loss of these predators may have direct and indirect effects on marine ecosystems, not only impacting other marine organisms, but us too – the human communities that rely on ocean resources.

It is time to put aside past notions of these animals and start to view them as wildlife. While sharks may not be as cute and cuddly (to everyone) as other marine species, such as turtles or whales, they are awe-inspiring animals.

While I could talk about sharks all day, I will try and end this on a positive note. Yes, sharks are in trouble. Yes, we have a long way to go in safeguarding these species, BUT, Things are changing for the better. Take Jack for example. He is evidence of a new generation growing up inspired by the wonder and beauty of these creatures. And it’s not just him. People of all ages and backgrounds are beginning to recognize the importance and beauty of these animals. Changing people’s perception of sharks is an uphill battle; however, there is hope! Public perception continues to shift from one where we need to protect humans from sharks to one where we need to protect sharks from humans.

So from one shark-fanatic to another, thank you for your words of encouragement Jack and Neil. Your letters have been a source of inspiration.

Did you know? You are more likely to die from faulty vending machines than ever being attacked by a shark. Honest.

To learn more about what we do to help protect sharks, visit, click here.

To help us continue our work with sharks, please consider donating, here.

  • S says:

    Sorry if my comment sounded racist. I didn’t mean it like that. I was referring to the fact that we can’t trade in our bodies for another: we are ourselves no matter what! So don’t take that comment the wrong way… sorry about that

  • S says:

    We feel guilty, but who is to blame but ourselves?
    I think that goes for every animal we care about. Even our own kind. When a smoker gets sick, who are they to blame? I could think of many more examples…

    12 year old… Again
    (same one)

  • S says:

    I appreciate all your positive comments, but let’s face it: nothing is getting done. Certain people are contributing in their own ways, People talk about wanting something done, but then they don’t do anything themselves. Little things will help in the long run (eventually) but we need change, and we need it now! I’m talkIng DRASTIC changes!! But no, people are too concerned with their little lives. Not looking for the bigger picture, rather than working for a better one!! Of course, opinions vary according to the person, but I think we should all be concerned.
    People worry about third world countries, while they might be suited for their positions! Maybe they have better-than-ours immune systems, or they might have better adapted lungs. We will never know what it’s like in their perspectives, because our bodies are not the same! They never will be the same. And I hope I didn’t just jinx that. I don’t think it’s right how people tamper with nature. It was made perfect, the way it was meant to. I was walking around my local grocery store when I noticed a strange new product in a plastic case. “Grapple’s” are grape infused apples! Who would eat those? It’s just wrong.

    This entire comment was written by a 12 year old. (just like last time!)

  • Ken Baker says:

    We are the lemmings rushing ever faster in a panic to be the first to reach the edge of the cliff seemingly obsessed with self destruction in our frenzy to compete for a quicker way to get it done. Until we as the voting public demand from our governments long term policies in place to ensure that the balance of our natural world “always” takes priority thus protecting all species which make up the whole. We must make such policies unchangeable and unalterable regardless of which party wins the vote for the day. Until we demand long term protection, looking ahead 50 or 100 years/more we will continue to lose our natural world because quick monetary gain is motivated by self preservation of a few, fueled by their greed and their short term thinking without any regard for long term preservation of our natural world. We call it progress and in our rush to be first we all progress faster and faster to the edge of the abyss.

  • Gabor Halasz says:

    It is criminal to allow ANY creature to become extinct from our carelessness, or worse yet, out not careing. We have done enough damage out of ignorance, we can not continue without endangering ourselves beyond recall as well.

  • Bodley says:

    “S” is right, people are of course aware of the terrible things going on in the world, but of course everybody is either too scared to do something about it, or they’re just too busy with their own lives. We should all work together in order to create changes for the better. Of course it may not be possible to have everybody agree on everything, but it is certain that different people can still have agreements on nature, Earth, its inhabitants, and our environment in a global view. Starting with the sharks and practicing recycling, compost, and carpooling can help with just the smaller environments around you. If people have time, they can even take bigger steps into action in terms of helping save wildlife.

  • Sue Stangel says:

    I can’t understand why these animals have such a bad reputation when they really don’t deserve it. If you stay out of the waters where they are known to exist, you are really in no danger of being injured by them. As for hunting them for food, it seems that often only a small part of their body, namely the fins are used as a delicacy. It would seem that we should be spending a lot more energy and funds on educating those parts of our society who still have this notion that eating certain parts of animals gives them extra strength or power that they would otherwise not have.

  • Heather DeLory says:

    Please stop this practice before it is too late

  • We cannot allow SHARKS to become “endangered” or worse still “extinct”. It is simply our responsibility to stop this from happening. Let’s protect the sharks in their habitat – and WE WILL ALL BE WINNERS.

  • P. Sekhar says:

    I completely agree with “S”. I am so happy to hear that a 12 year old sees that animals are our equals. I am 31 and when I was growing up saying the same thing, people laughed at me or took great offence to being considered equals to the other animals of this world. We have spent generations… hundreds, if not thousands of years brain-washing ourselves into thinking we are better than all the rest. This false sense of truth has led to many follies in our history, be it against other species or our fellow humans and we continue to make this same mistake to this day. To hear the next generation taking a different view of what we have on this planet, our one and only home, gives me some hope still.

  • lynn arrayet says:

    Sharks deserve to live

  • S says:

    If you think about it, animals are our equals. Man-kind just happened to be the first to seize an opportunity of dominance. They have hearts, just like us. Put yourself in the sharks’ position. We just automatically assume they are not as developed as us. Sharks don’t have libraries, or chainsaws, or wheels, but all of those require opposable thumbs. Yes, we have certain things they don’t, but we (humans) don’t recognize their ‘gifts’. Animals are miracles! So are you. Don’t go bothering yourself about problems that may seem major, but rather the ones that affect EVERYTHING. Take a step back from your life, and inspect the globe itself and it’s inhabitants. People talk about global issues needing to stop, but then hardly make a dent in the seemingly impenetrable wall. Several individuals have stepped up before us, and now it is our turn! Pass on this knowledge. You want it done right, do it yourself. If somebody tries before you and fails, you can’t blame them because you didn’t help!!

    This entire comment was written by a 12 year old.

  • Lauryn Reid says:

    I am nine years old and I would really love to help sharks. Sharks are my favourite animal and I would like to become a marine bioligist too. I think it’s right for sharks to roam the oceans with our respect. I am doing my best to change the way people think about sharks and hope the killing can stop soon.

  • Helen Derry says:

    Keep up the good fight and help the world’s wildlife so our children can know there are real animals out in the wild still and not just films of them.

  • manon says:

    isin’t it ironic
    people who read these animal blog are animal lovers, the hard part would be to reach those who don’t respect animal and think they are the best creature
    what don’t realize they would’t have nothing without the animal on this planet

  • Belinda says:

    I have had the pleasure of swimming with these magnificant creatures all over the world. They are such a beautiful site to see and touch. Never saw one that I was afraid off. Yes, they are king of their domain, and that is how it should stay and be respected for it.

  • Karin Heckbert-Krech says:

    My eight year old son loves sharks. He opened a presentation at school with that exact quote, you are more likely to die from a vending machine falling on you than by being attacked by a shark! He even sleeps with 4 stuffed sharks on his bed (the only four we have ever found him), saying they are beautiful and part of nature’s balance and you should respect them as any other animal. All animals deserve to exist, save the sharks!

  • VBurrell says:

    We need to save our oceans and sharks are a part of this awesome, amazing big picture. SAVE OUR SHARKS.

  • Jo-Anne Collis says:

    Stop the killing and slaughtering of the sharks…….they have a right to live their life without the constant threat of being killed by man or through man’s thoughlessness!

  • Bryon Walters says:

    Why the hell do you have to kill everything. Because you can. Isn’t there enough killing, destruction and death in this world already without you adding to it. Leave mother nature alone while we still have something left.

  • Alex MacLeod says:

    Pop culture teaches people from a young age that sharks are ‘scary’ monsters, which iis entirely untrue. They are beautiful majestic creatures that should be given far more respect. They have outlived a whole lot of adversity, hopefully they can survive us too.

  • Rachel W. says:

    Sharks are at the top of the food chain for the entire ocean. If they are endangered or eliminated, the whole balance will be thrown off disrupting the resource that provides our oxygen.

  • Paula Gignac says:

    I’m a longtime surfer, with no fear of sharks. I worry more about getting injured while surfing by the uneducated idiots around me than I ever have about sharks.

    Sharks are an integral part of the ecosystem that we use for both food and recreation, and without them a key “balancer” in the equation goes away.

    We need to get rid of our fears, and focus on protecting this important link in the ocean’s ecosystem and food chain, as this ultimately protects our own interests as well.

    Swim on, swim on, my mi amigos!!!

  • Judy Morley says:

    Why do we take this “who cares” attitude about the killing of any creature? It will come back to haunt us…

  • Neera joshi says:

    Sharks are nature’s beautiful creation and we need to leave them alone. Stop senseless killing of these beautiful mammals.

  • Isabelle Loubot says:

    Please, stop this now.

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