Children, the Ocean and Sharks

I have been fortunate enough to spend time with kids. I have taught my friend’s kids how to snorkel and they have enjoyed the ocean and its wonderful inhabitants fearlessly with me. I have also had the pleasure to teach grade 3s and kindergarten kids about sharks. Children are endlessly fascinated by sharks and seem to have an understanding and a natural compassion for them that unfortunately seems to fade for many when they age. This is why I love spending time with children – we are all on the same page when it comes to the ocean and sharks.

I recently taught a group of kindergarten students and when a clever young man asked me if sharks ate starfish and I couldn’t give him the definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer he wanted, he muttered to himself but loud enough for us all to hear “How can you be a shark expert if you can’t answer that question?” I love this kid. He is the embodiment of that passion for knowledge and that sense of justice and fairness that children use on a daily basis.

What we are doing to children through our treatment of this planet is criminal. Not only are we leaving a legacy of destruction for them, we are destroying their sense of hope and justice as they see the endless injustices we heap on our ecosystems as they are helpless to do anything but watch with incredulity as we bumble all over the planet wreaking havoc.

Recently, a four-year-old girl named Alarni Howard wrote a beautiful and intelligent letter to the ocean. It made me cry. I printed it out, coloured it in and framed it so I can be reminded daily of what the ocean and sharks mean to children. This intelligent girl knows more about sharks than the politicians and policy makers who are endlessly trying to destroy them – yes, I am talking to your Colin Barnett, Mike Baird, Campbell Newman, Greg Hunt, Malcolm Turnbull and all the incompetents who work for the GBRMPA who let the largest living thing on earth disintegrate and languish due to their allowances of fishing, dredging, agricultural runoff and a myriad of other affects. This girl knows more than all of you.

She not only asks ‘fisherman to go away and let sharks get a share of the food’ but she also understands that the recent shark attack ‘was an accident’ and ‘please forgive them you look like a seal with that wetsuit and surf board’.

It is not hyperbole to say this:

A four year old can understand this, why can’t grown men?

Well done Alarni, I’d vote for you any day.