Jul 14, 2022
We’re about to take a deep dive with Beneath The Waves—an organization GoPro for a Cause has supported since 2020. Beneath The Waves is dedicated to promoting ocean health and using science and technology to catalyze ocean policy. They focus on protecting sharks and other threatened species, establishing protected areas, and creating nature-based solutions to climate change.
Earlier this year, GoPro joined Beneath The Waves in the Bahamas on a shark tagging and underwater survey expedition. Along with GoPro family members Andre Musgrove and Benjamin Ortega, the Beneath The Waves crew captured new and unique content while telling the story of sharks in the Bahamas and the importance of long-term research on sharks and the entire marine ecosystem of the Caribbean.
Jamie Fitzgerald, Beneath The Waves Managing Director, takes us under the surface to explore their work in the Bahamas.
GoPro: Why does Beneath The Waves focus on shark conservation?
Jamie: Sharks and other highly migratory marine species are some of the most threatened species on our planet, due to decades of overfishing happening at the global scale. It has been estimated that up to 100 million sharks are killed every year for their fins. This is the eradication of our planet’s oldest and most important marine species and has been cited by many as one of the greatest environmental issues of our time. Sharks hold important roles as top predators in many marine ecosystems. Without sharks, ecosystems can become unstable and risk collapse.
Tell us about the expedition in the Bahamas Shark Sanctuary.
Through tagging shark species in the Exuma region of the Bahamas and monitoring their movements year-round with our acoustic receiver arrays, we gain invaluable information about what healthy shark populations look like—and the healthy marine ecosystems they support—which can then be used to inform policy and public opinion. The Bahamas Shark Sanctuary is a model protected area.
By partnering with GoPro and GoPro Ambassadors, we hope that the impact of our work will be far-reaching: hitting the devices of new audiences around the globe and educating people who have maybe never even seen sharks before about the importance and value of protecting these amazing animals. They are apex predators, but that doesn’t make them monsters. And showing our work through GoPro’s lens, we hope that people will see the beauty of sharks—instilling fascination instead of fear.
Why did you choose GoPro?
GoPro has always been a deep part of our work at Beneath The Waves. We are a scientific research organization, but we also believe firmly in showcasing the ocean—stories of adventure, wonder, positivity, amazement and science—and allowing as many people as possible to experience the world beneath the waves with us. We want ocean conservation to be accessible to everyone, and GoPro helps us achieve that on every expedition.
How is the local community engaged in your work?
Inspiring the next generation of shark scientists and marine biologists is one of the most important tenets of our organization. During our time in Exuma earlier this year, we had the opportunity to bring a group of high school students out on the water with us to learn about our research methods. It is amazing for us to see young Bahamians enjoying the marine life in their own backyards and appreciating and respecting sharks instead of fearing them. This summer, we are hosting a kids’ camp for all primary-aged students in Exuma: a day of educational activities (on land) to help more students connect with marine science and conservation. We want to show them that these careers exist, and we would love to be their first employer for internships and jobs in the years ahead!
We also are privileged to work with an exceptional network of local stakeholders—including divers, fishermen, marinas, ecotourism operations and other NGOs.
How can the GoPro community help support your mission?
As a non-profit organization, we always welcome direct donations. Support from individuals–small and large–makes a huge difference and impact for our team, funding everything from new research equipment to data analysis for our projects.
Beyond that, we really want as many people as possible to find a way to connect with the ocean and do their part to protect it. Whether this is as simple as following us on social media, reading some of our scientific research publications, sharing our educational videos, or even joining us on an expedition—the more people out there who are excited about protecting sharks and exploring the ocean, the better the future looks for all of us.
You can learn more about getting involved with GoPro for a Cause here.