Sponsored cycle ride for Shark Trust

I don’t normally write about things that aren’t related to thinking about/making/uploading podcasts – but I’d like to appeal to the goodwill of the visitors to this blog.

I’m doing the Bristol Nightrider 2019 for the Shark Trust on July 6th (next weekend as I write this) and I would really love some extra sponsorship.

Now I know most of us already donate to various charity stuff (heck, this year I’ve given to Hen Harriers and badgers, supported judicial reviews, and I pay my monthly subs to a bunch of charities etc ) and I know most of us don’t end the month with much left to spend from our salaries (many of us flirt with our overdrafts I’m sure), nevertheless, if I don’t make this pitch I don’t give you the opportunity to perhaps support something you’ve thought about supporting – like, sharks!

So, the Nightrider. It’s – er, at night, and it’s around Bristol. Which if you don’t know the city is a pretty hilly place (not Buxton or Edinburgh hilly, but way hillier than Cambridge or Peterborough). I’ve opted for the ‘blue route’ 100km/65 mile route, rather than the ‘red’ 50km route which (and no offence to non-regular cyclists) is a training ride or commute for many cyclists. The ‘blue route’ takes in both loops and the organisers seem to have looked for every incline within miles (see the image below)…

Now, I know that 100km is NOT Lands End – John O’Groats (which is around 2000km). It’s not especially difficult if you ride bikes a lot (and I do) but that’s what I’m being asked to do, so that’s what I’m doing. To be honest, I’ve never ridden at night before, so that should be an extra element. And it traverses Bristol city centre on Saturday night, which might be – er, interesting when the clubs spill out…

But Bristol is hardly downtown Caracas or Bogota. There’ll be hundreds of other riders, it’s well signed, the organisers even lay on biscuits. So it’s not going to be life-changing or dangerous. It should be fun though, and a different way to spend a Saturday night (my start time is 23:50 so I’ll be finishing sometime around dawn on Sunday hopefully). The important point is though that any/all funds raised will go to the Shark Trust. They’re a small charity, and every penny counts. (I made a podcast with them last week which you can find at Paul Cox | Shark Trust if you’d like to know more about them)

And – seriously – every single penny would help.

So if you feel like chucking a single penny into the hat (as it were) please have a look at https://www.sharktrust.org/fundraisers/charlie-moores-shark-trust-fundraiser

And thanks!

Podcast Uploaded: Paul Cox | Shark Trust

Uploaded to Lush Player June 2019: “Paul Cox | Shark Trust”

It occurred to me recently that while I’ve recorded numerous podcasts on birds of prey, badgers, foxes, bees, plants (see the Menu options above) – I’ve barely mentioned sharks, one of the planet’s most threatened, most beautifully evolved and most important predators, a group of animals that are so misunderstood that according to some polls I found online, a large number of respondents didn’t know that sharks were fish, thinking that they were mammals like dolphins.

But leaving taxonomy to one side for a moment, let’s get straight to the shark-sized elephant in the room. When I said the word ‘shark’ I’m willing to place a small wager that the image that popped in to your head will be pretty much the same image that will pop into the heads of many of the people around you: a big, scary, sinister, dangerous animal. With sharp teeth.

The truth is, of course, like most things in nature, far more interesting. Sharks are actually an incredibly varied group of animals. There are around 500 extant species, with new species being discovered almost every year – in fact, roughly a fifth of current living sharks and the closely-related rays have been described since 2002. The smallest shark is less than 20 cm long – the largest, the Whale Shark, can grow to around 12 metres, weigh 19000kg, and feeds almost exclusively on plankton. Sharks are curious, in many cases highly social, occupy many different aquatic zones, and feed on everything from shellfish to seals – but are they dangerous?

We tend to think of ‘dangerous’ only in terms of what’s dangerous to us, but just three or four species account for the vast majority of shark attacks and according to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), between 1958 and 2016 there were just 2,785 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks around the world. Of those 439 were fatal – and while of course it won’t seem that way to the families concerned, that’s a remarkably low figure considering how many of us are in the ocean at any one time. And given that we are responsible for taking some 100 million sharks from the ocean every year, it’s far more accurate to say that it’s us humans that are dangerous to sharks, not the other way around.

I went to speak with Paul Cox, managing director of the UK-based charity Shark Trust, to learn more about protecting and promoting these fascinating animals. Paul is a marine biologist by training, and in the blurb on his Shark Trust ‘who we are’ page he says that he is “fascinated by how we communicate as well as what we communicate”.

Which seemed to me to be a really good basis for a conversation. While we covered welfare vs pragmatism, sustainability, fundraising, and the Trust’s links with a somewhat controversial Swimming with Sharks experience, we began by discussing how the Shark Trust helps a terrestrial species like us connect with the ocean and connect with sharks…and how might the way he communicates help with one of the major problems facing sharks today – overfishing….