Saving the Sharks with OceanKin Founder, Alice Cimino
This World Oceans Day, we are highlighting the important work of Alice Cimino, founder of OceanKin which protects the earth’s shark populations and in turn the ocean’s ecosystems. Alice’s passion for sharks began at a young age, when her father bought her a book about white sharks. After becoming aware of the horrific realities that sharks and the oceans are facing, she decided to channel her passion to create change and give a voice to those that need it most.
After spending some time diving in the Indian Ocean and bearing witness to the lack of sharks, she began her mission by creating OceanKin. This conservation platform aims to spread awareness and provide education to those unaware of the sad realities our oceans are faced with.
Currently pursuing a degree in Marine Science, she hopes to help people see sharks through her eyes & to change the narrative that they are mindless man eaters.
Follow OceanKins mission & be part of the change that our oceans so desperately need.
June 8th is World Ocean's Day. What is one thing you wish everyone understood about the ocean so they might protect it more?
The global ocean covers 71% of the earth and plays a key role in the function of keeping our planet healthy. For example, seagrass meadows are like lungs and are responsible for much of the sequestration of CO2 produced by human activity and also provide abundant habitats for many important species. Essentially, in order for us and our planet to thrive, our oceans need to be preserved, not exploited.
Tell us about your work.
I founded OceanKin in August 2020 as a result of my deep love for sharks. Shark populations have declined as much as 98% for some species such as the oceanic whitetip shark. My first project began shortly after in February 2021 after I discovered Amazon USA was selling spiny dogfish shark pups in bottles as souvenirs on their platform. The campaign resulted in 54,000 signatures on change.org and Amazon subsequently removing the product from their site.
My upcoming project is in Mallorca, working towards changing trade laws and gaining more protection for blue sharks in the Mediterranean. They are consumed for their meat and can be found filling freezers in many grocery stores which is worrisome for the species, as they are listed as critically endangered in the mediterranean and near threatened globally by the IUCN. My hope is to educate locals on the importance of sharks within the oceans ecosystems, alongside this I will be conducting the research needed to provide evidence to policy makers and writing my dissertation about the research for my final year at Swansea University.
How does the health of the ocean and waste prevention affect the species you advocate for?
Plastic waste and discarded fishing gear such as nets and longlines cause huge problems for many species including sharks. A study was conducted in the Mediterranean that showed 50% of all blue sharks recorded via a BRUV (baited remote underwater video) had residual hooks in their mouth and damage to their jaws. Entanglement from nets, causes mortality for many different species from turtles to whales often by way of drowning or infection. Many things end up in the ocean that do not belong there, plastic bags, bottles, straws and balloons all pose a big threat to wildlife, yet can be prevented by people taking small steps day to day, which in turn is going to aid the health of our oceans and its inhabitants.
What can we do on a personal level to affect change for ocean species?
Making small changes in your day to day life can have a significant positive impact on the ocean and many species, not using plastic straws, using canvas bags for grocery shopping, choosing ethical and eco conscious cleaning and body products. These are a handful of things that seem small, but really make a positive impact over time.
In regards to sharks, several ways to aid them is to support the work of conservations and scientists trying to create change and if you eat fish, purchase it from a sustainable source. Another problem for sharks is the media, often portraying them as ferocious man eaters, which simply is not true. Online sources and media outlets will do anything to garner attention or make a buck, so they love to use fear mongering headlines that instill fear into the public.
If you want to learn about sharks, make sure it's from a credible source as there are a lot of mistruths out there.
What is your favorite beach or ocean spot in the world?
So I actually have two. First would be Tenby in Pembrokeshire, Wales. I have been going there since I was a child and it holds many special memories for me, it was there that sparked my love and curiosity for the ocean. The second is a cove in Mallorca where my partner and I go to scuba and freedive. We have witnessed some pretty fascinating interspecies behavior between octopus and a fish called the painted comber. I love being able to capture different species on camera, it's a truly magical thing being able to share their world under the waves.
Is there anything we can do as a brand to help protect oceans?
I have to say, you are already doing such amazing things as a brand using aluminum packaging, sourcing sustainable ingredients and giving back to work that is being done for the oceans. This is the reason I have been a long time fan of your products and ethics, you represent what every brand should be striving for, good for your body and good for the planet.
Follow Alice and OceanKin on Instagram.