Marine biologist, Jillian Morris, explains her passion for sharks and the work of Sharks4Kids, a nonprofit education company she runs with her husband Duncan Brake. Their book Shark Super Powers was published by UCLAN earlier this year.
The Shark Life
“Do you ever get scared?” This is something I get asked all the time when I tell people I work with sharks. Fear of sharks is engrained in our culture and taught to us from a very young age. I saw Jaws when I was 5 years old and if anything, it ignited a curiosity about these remarkable animals. It was at that same age I told my parents I wanted to be a marine biologist. This passion and fascination for the oceans and marine life has never faded. Most of my adult life has revolved around sharks. They have shaped my career path as well as where I have traveled and lived.
I live in the Bahamas because of sharks. I met my husband because of sharks. My newborn daughter’s middle name is Mokarran, which is part of the scientific name for a great hammerhead. I am lucky to spend a lot of time diving with, studying and photographing sharks. I have traveled the world to do this and now spend a lot of time in my own backyard. The Bahamas is home to a healthy and diverse population of sharks. This allows me to constantly learn and create new content for our education nonprofit, Sharks4Kids. Great hammerheads are definitely my favorite animal on the planet, but we also spend a lot of time with lemon sharks, tiger sharks, nurse sharks and Caribbean reef sharks. Being in the water with sharks is incredible. They are not the monsters media makes them out to be. They are beautiful, intelligent and powerful animals that deserve our respect and need our help.
The goal of Sharks4Kids is to create the next generation of shark advocates through education, outreach and adventure. I genuinely believe kids have a voice and If we empower and inspire them, they will save sharks and our oceans. They are the future. We provide interactive learning opportunities to help change fear to fascination; teaching facts and the reality of sharks. Educational resources for teachers and students are FREE to download and use. We also do in person visits and offer education days, but with the pandemic we have moved to fully virtual. We have always offered virtual lessons, but we launched a webinar series in March. We have hosted over 60 webinars featuring scientists, divers, artists and videographers from around the world. These are all available to watch on our YouTube channel. Our standard virtual lessons can be schedule with a class, home school group or organization. They are age appropriate and cover a wide range of topics including how we study sharks, ecosystems and adaptations, and how we can help save sharks. Students can meet and learn from real life marine biologists, divers and conservationists. We will be launching a special program to go with Shark Super Powers in early 2021.This will include a lesson packet and virtual lesson with me. I am really excited to be able to offer this.
There are over 500 different species of shark and one of our goals for Sharks4Kids is to teach students about lesser known and more diverse species. While Shark Super Powers does feature some of the most well-known and iconic species (great white and tiger shark), it also features the prickly dogfish, swell shark and cookiecutter shark. We wanted to showcase some of our favorite shark facts-did you know some sharks can glow? We hope this inspires students to dive in and learn more about these remarkable animals and their weird and wonderful adaptations.
To learn more or download resources check out www.sharks4kids.com
Watch out for a review of Shark Super Powers by Steph Elliot which will appear tomorrow on Steph’s website www.alittlebutalot.com