Commend Researcher for Being an Ally to Sharks


Target: Dr. Andrew Nosal, Birch Aquarium

Goal: Give applause for fostering shared stewardship over leopard sharks in San Diego, California.

Hundreds of pregnant leopard sharks have gathered in the warm waters of La Jolla Shores in San Diego, California. Leopard sharks require warm, shallow water in order to incubate their embryos before they migrate to give birth in another place. A large congregation of sharks usually incites fear in beach-goers flocking to popular locations during summer months. Fortunately, a local researcher specializing in leopard shark ecology has stepped up to encourage curiosity toward this harmless shark species instead of persecution.

Dr. Andrew Nosal, Birch Aquarium’s DeLaCour Postdoctoral Fellow in Ecology & Conservation, has worked to foster shared stewardship over leopard sharks through education. The Birch Aquarium naturalist is leading kayak tours to discuss the unique features of the Marine Protected Reserve and provide an up close experience with marine wildlife including leopard sharks.

Leopard sharks are nonaggressive, timid, and tend to dart away from snorkelers. Viewing these animals by kayak is the best method to observe many at a time. Swimming with the sharks is not dangerous, not only because they are shy and docile, but they have small mouths and teeth used for feeding bony fish and crustaceans. Dr. Nosal also dispels rumors of smaller sharks attracting larger aggressive sharks by explaining that attacks of leopard sharks by species such as great white sharks has been unheard of in La Jolla Shores.

Dr. Nosal describes the leopard shark as ‘a friendly ambassador for sharks in general.’ Sharks have unfortunately received a terrible reputation from works of fiction. Learning that leopard sharks can be harmless even in large numbers and increased exposure to these amazing spotted and striped creatures will help people to overcome their fear of these animals. Please sign this petition to praise Dr. Nosal for his admirable work to protect sharks.


Dear Dr. Andrew Nosal,

I would like to commend you for your work with the Birch Aquarium to conserve sharks through education outreach. Thank you for taking the time to give guided tours that provide the unique experience of exploring La Jolla’s Marine Protected Reserve and informing the public about the unique ecosystems found in this underwater park. Bringing attention to the fascinating behaviors of gestating female leopard sharks and dispelling the fearsome reputation of all sharks protects related species from persecution. This exciting interaction engages visitors with stewardship over the marine environment.

By clearing up common misconceptions about the aggressiveness of sharks and demonstrating the precious resource of docile leopard sharks in their natural local habitat, you are providing a great service to animals and the community. Please continue your amazing work sharing knowledge with the public and emphasizing how the presence of wildlife including sharks indicate healthy ocean ecosystems. The experience and lessons you provide are invaluable.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Brett Fernau via Flickr.

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