What’s it worth to you to get a shout out from the great white shark who recently weekended off the Hamptons and who has close to 98,000 Twitter followers?
How about exclusive text updates from researchers during their planned expedition this summer to tag and study juvenile white sharks off Long Island?
Those are among the enticements to contribute to a Kickstarter campaign to help fund data gathering by OCEARCH, a Utah-based research and educational nonprofit. That’s the organization whose global tracker monitors the comings and goings of some 300 tagged sharks, mostly great whites and tiger sharks, worldwide, including @MaryLeeShark, the social media celebrity — a fan actually created her Twitter feed — who visited Long Island last month.
As of Thursday, $32,620 had been pledged, with a total of $150,000 needed by June 22 for the project to be funded, according to Kickstarter.com
The idea is to build on ongoing research on the creatures that OCEARCH calls “our ocean’s apex predators.” Worldwide, some 100 million sharks a year are lost, many ending up in shark fin soup, said Chris Fischer, founding chairman and expedition leader of OCEARCH, last month.
As such, sharks are the ocean’s “balance keeper,” without which the populations of second tier predators, such as squid, would “explode like locust,” Fischer said, gobbling up other fish that humans like to eat and disrupting the sea’s food chain.
Conservationists face a lack of data on migratory patterns of the white sharks, as well as their mating and birth sites, locations that need protecting, according to the campaign’s Kickstarter page. “Our mission,” it said, “is to shift the tone of the conversation around sharks from fear to one of curiosity and fascination.”
Besides contributing to the study of sharks, a $20 or more pledge will get you a Twitter shout out and other digital goodies. Donate $50 or more for Fischer’s text message updates.