Sharks Educational Institute - passion for shark awareness learning

The Sharks Educational Institute is an international non-governmental organization dedicated to the education for the marine conservation, founded by Fernando Reis in 2016.

Our principal focus of work is the development of the issues related to the marine environmental education of the youngers and their active participation in the conservation of the sharks' species in their natural habitats.

Our vision is to enhance the public general knowledge of the marine life balance, based on sharks' conservation, all through our stakeholders' influences and involvement.

Our mission is to create new educational events geared towards a better knowledge of the marine life balance supported on sharks.

Thus, we wish to promote creative educational events for a better environmental marine awareness of everybody, through the cooperation with other organizations and their stakeholders based on an active participation of all the public involved.

Why international projects with Fabián Ortega?

Fabián Ortega spent the first summers of his life by the sea, in Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo natural area, on the coast of Granada, Spain. By that time, he was already enchanted by the marine fauna and loved practicing snorkeling and climbing rocks looking for crabs and rare seashells.

During his university studies, he leaves the sea behind and spends a total of 5 years between England, Leipzig and Berlin, where he specializes in languages and has the opportunity to discover and experiment first-hand the respective cultures.

In 2012, after finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in English Studies from the University of Granada, he decides to keep on expanding his vision of the world and get back in touch with the sea. In order to do that, he starts working as a freelance translator, a job that allows him to finance his adventure through Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Bali.

In 2015 he decides to settle in Thailand, where he completes his PADI Divemaster course and the passion for the sea and its fauna strikes his head harder. In addition, he collaborates with beach and reef cleaning groups and learns more about the conservation and protection of the sea.At this point, Fabián realizes he wants to dedicate more time to this cause.

In 2016, he sets his residence in Gran Canaria with the intention of discovering the Atlantic fauna, diving more often and enjoying the sea and the pace of the island. Plus, the proximity to the international airport makes him feel always ready for new adventures.

Embracing his commitment to the ocean's conservation and awareness, since November 2017, Fabián Ortega has become our International Communication Adviser for the support and coordination of our cooperation on international projects for elasmobranchs preservation.

Why Marine Environment with Adam Evans?

Currently based in York, England, Adam has been Diving since he was 16. His introduction to ocean conservation came in Barbados in 2015, where he worked with Barbados Blue in saving coral reefs from invasive lion fish species. With no natural predators in this environment, the alien species were growing fast in number, consuming a threatening amount of smaller fish. The aim of the project was to encourage skeptical locals to choose to eat lion fish over other fish, to reduce their dominance over the reef.

After getting a taste of what lies below the surface, in 2016 Adam lived out his dream of completing his SSI Divemaster and Dive Control Specialist training. Using this he was able to take clients to dive with black tip reef sharks daily in Thailand. He took this as an opportunity to show people the excitement of finding sharks on a dive and help break irrational fears of sharks that clients may have. Here he was also able to get involved in conservation projects such as waste clean-up dives around the pier and Trash Hero Thailand, a project aimed at reducing plastic waste, focusing on cutting down on the use of plastic bottles.

Adam is an Ocean Quest/Sea Shepard Coral Propagation Diver, using these skills in Thailand to build a coral nursery, made using coral fragments recovered from dying coral. This coral is taken from heavily accessed dive sites to more remote locations where the coral can recover and grow into a new healthy reef. A method which may prove key in recovering dying coral reefs.

Adam then received training from scientist and shark specialist Pascal Gospodinov after becoming a shark diver in the Azores. Here he was able to expand his knowledge and experience with pelagic sharks and learn key skills in observing shark behaviour, as well as shark-human interaction.

Through his diving experience and scientific knowledge through his Chemistry undergraduate degree, Adam is keen to dive with purpose and help educate people on sharks and the intricate ecosystem of the ocean. Adam is currently studying for his master’s degree in Marine Environmental Management at the University of York and hopes to use this as a platform to help protect sharks and rejuvenate the health of our ocean.

In 2017 Adam moved to Indonesia to work with Gili Shark Conservation completing fish identification training and becoming a PADI AWARE Shark Conservation Diver. Adam gathered important data as a research diver to be put forward to argue for a marine park around all Gili islands, as well as getting involved in beach clean-up operations to help raise awareness of the huge amount of plastic waste in the area.

Marine protected areas and waste management are crucial to preserving valuable and fragile shark populations, as well as all endangered marine life. It is for these reasons Adam has become one of our Marine Environmental Advisers here at Sharks Educational Institute.

Why sharks with Grace TSP?

Sharks have more than 400 million years of evolution, first humans less than one million, and Grace’s passion for sharks stems from her curiosity in answering the question: what can we learn from these incredible creatures that pre-date even the dinosaurs?

Having experienced her first shark encounter back in 2012, Grace’s love for shark conservation and research has snowballed ever since and has taken her around the globe from volunteering as a shark research diver in Indonesia to working as a shark guide in the Azores. 

Currently studying for her MSc in Marine Environmental Management at the University of York, Grace longs to help further Elasmobranch studies, particularly that relating to shark behavior as well as educating future generations about Sharks and their relatives. It was this particular interest in Shark Behavior that brought Grace and shark behavior specialist, Pascal Gospodinov together on Pico Island in the Azores where Grace partook In Shark School workshops focusing on shark-human interaction. This in turn, gave grace the knowledge to understand and interact with a number of large pelagic species such as Blue sharks and their infamous friends the Mako shark. 

From the Grey Reef Sharks of the Maldives to Thailand’s Black Tips to Australia’s Spotted Ragged-Tooth sharks, Grace has an array of experience diving with different shark species from her travels. During a 5-month period in Thailand in 2016-2017, Grace undertook Sea Shepard’s ‘Coral Propagation Course’ enabling her to aid the planting of an entirely new coral nursery off the coast of Koh Phi Phi commenting that “Saving and restoring shark populations includes protecting the entire ecosystem in which they long to flourish…all the way down to the polyps that make up a coral reef”.

Following this experience, Grace moved to Gili Air in Indonesia to assist the Gili Shark Conservation organization in collecting data on local shark species as well as indicator species with the ultimate goal of forming a scientific basis to bequeath the whole of the Gili Islands with MPA (Marine Protected Area) status. As an SSI Assistant Scuba-Diving Instructor and PADI AWARE Shark Conservation Diver, Grace longs to continue to utilize and combine her passion for diving and sharks to not only conserve sharks and further research into their still largely mysterious existence but also to educate the public on what we already know and have already learnt from these incredible creatures.

Grace has a particular interest in changing how the media presents sharks and hopes that with education, the general public will start to receive unbiased and informed information on sharks rather than the sensationalist and scaremongering tactics present in current media outlets. It was this desire and drive that facilitated Grace to become one of our Shark Diving Advisers.

Why sharks with Pascal Gospodinov?

Pascal's studies were initially focused on zoology and behavioral research, but soon specialization was devoted to shark-human interaction and accident research. In 1995, he was able to observe a black tip reef shark snorkeling in front of Isla Margarita (Venezuela). This encounter was the game changer. The encounter moved and shaped him and differed strikingly from the prevailing academic teaching. Alone Erich Ritter's research results coincided with his own experience he got during that amazing encounter, and so the two paths crossed.

In 2003 Pascal Gospodinov joined the SERC (Shark Education and Research Center) studying the effects of biotic and abiotic factors on the swim-dynamic of Caribbean Reef Sharks (C. perezi), with Dr. Erich Ritter as a mentor. A major part of his work took place in the field and one thing that should be said here is that his work was characterized as non-invasive research in naturalistic settings.

After receiving his master’s degree (Diploma) from the University of Mainz in 2006 he began to work as a tour guide and "communication trainer" for shark-human interaction in Dr. Erich Ritters SharkSchool(TM). Pascal was an integral part of the SERC and SharkSchool(TM) in Grand Cay, Bahamas, not just as a trainer but also as a project leader for different research endeavors undertaken at SERC. Like others on that team, his focus revolved around shark-human interaction and accident research. Since 2003 Pascal has been working with Dr. Erich Ritter and still supervises some SharkSchool(TM) workshops all around the world.

At the SERC, Pascal was not only a scientist, an exam assistant, a test person, a lecturer, a behavior researcher and a tutor of German-speaking graduate students. He also works "by the way" on his doctoral thesis, still with Erich as a mentor. He investigates the extent to which human stress (psychological or physical) influences the buzzing behavior of bull sharks and lemon sharks. The project name is "Bullshark Reaction on Human Stress (BURST)". Supervisor for the area 'Human Stress' is the neurologist Dr. Kai Lutz of the University of Zurich. The northern Abacos are Pascal's preferred research area, but he dove with sharks all around the world like; South Africa, the Red Sea, Islas Revillagegidos, the Azores, Mexico, the Caribbean, La Réunion just to name some of the areas.

In addition to all (shark) science, the human component of shark-(hu)man relationships is also Pascal's interest. For his students or workshop participants, this means that you can look forward to an entertaining course by a friendly coach. Pascal's open temperament and his accessible nature are certainly due to his internationality; He is quadrilingual (German, French, Spanish, English) and has conversational Portuguese.

A couple of years ago Pascal and Fernando met, of course talking about sharks and accidents. After having had some fruitful conversations they decided to cooperate. Pascal Gospodinov is nowadays the Shark Behaviourist Director of the Sharks Educational Institute and as well of course one of our Shark Diving Advisers.

Why sharks' education with Manuela Domingues?

Living in the Canary Islands, Spain, Manuela is a Portuguese shark diver and conservationist born in Oporto, Image Officer and Advisory Board member of the Sharks Educational Institute.

She is an expert in sustainable alternatives for better practices of underwater shark tourism, graduated in Administration in Oporto with a large experience in customs clearance agency management, and as well as an artisanal plastic artist and a PADI certified Rescue Diver.

Being since a long-time an experienced scuba diver and an international recognized underwater photographer, Manuela began to dive with sharks in 2008. Since then, she decided to dedicate a part of her time to promote shark conservation through the education for the protection and preservation of all the marine environment, mostly oriented for the most youngers.

Between 2007 and 2012, she was a member of the Portuguese Commission 'Protection of Sharks in Portugal', where she developed several initiatives integrated in the European Shark Week.

Between October 2013 and March 2017, and as one of its co-founders, she was the Secretary of the Spanish Association Alianza por los Tiburones de Canarias (Canary Islands Shark Alliance).

Since 2016, and integrating the Sharks Educational Institute, she started to develop new conservationist initiatives for different stakeholders, and become our Image Officer and Advisory Board member.

Why sharks with Fernando Reis?

Fernando Reis is a conservationist, environmentalist, shark expert, specialized in shark diving training and in shark advocation, founder and Executive Director of the Sharks Educational Institute.

Master Business Administrator in Marketing, Mathematics and Drawing and Painting teacher, he becomes a diver since the earlier 80's. Nowadays, Fernando Reis is an economist teacher, a trainer, a painter, as well as a shark diver and a shark advocate. 

In the 90's he has started to dive with sharks all around the world and become a Divemaster and a White Shark Awareness Diver. Today he is a Sharks' Diver guide and trainer, as well as a board member and founder of the Sharks Atlantic Platform.

As an independent shark researcher, he has already collaborated with several associations like APECE in Portugal, Pro-Squalus in Brazil, Shark Alliance, and other international NGOs. In the Canary Islands, Spain, where he lives, he has found the Canary Islands Shark Alliance. 

Environmental conservationist from his academic training and personal development, Fernando Reis has been invited by several times as speaker at international conferences and seminars about the importance of sharks in the media marine environments and their contribution to a healthy biodiversity.

As a conservationist and environmentalist, he has been promoting conservation shark habitats projects for more than a decade. He has been Marketing Manager Director in 2006 for the Exposub Portugal, a Diving Show in Portugal, and from 2007 he is a founding member of the Portuguese Commission 'Protection of Sharks in Portugal'.

Since 2013 till March 2017, and as a founding member, he was the coordinator, and President of the Spanish Association Alianza por los Tiburones de Canarias (Canary Islands Shark Alliance). Since 2015 he was also a member of the Steering Committee of the Sharks Atlantic Platform. Since then, he is the coordinator, innovation designer and Key Note Speaker for the shark educational training on these NGOs.

Also as a marine conservationist and an environmental expert, with the Sharks Educational Institute, he has been developing several educational activities for different publics, dedicated to the marine and shark conscientiousness at a global level.

Oriented for a better knowledge of all the marine life balance, Fernando dedicates a part of his life to sharing and to teach his skills on creative educational events, publications, multidisciplinary' exhibitions, film festivals, conferences, workshops, and lectures. Also since 2014, he is the director of the Canary Islands International Underwater Film Festival - Agüimes.

As executive director of the Sharks Educational Institute, Fernando Reis assures the long-range of the Institute's strategy through the development of new educative proposals with the stakeholders and partners of the organization, based on the best working knowledge of the most significant developments and achievements in the field of shark awareness and marine conservation. He designs, develops and implements the most customer-oriented plans for the different activities the Sharks Educational Institute realizes together with its partners into their public events.

A sea without sharks is a sea without life.