Fin Fiction: The Root of the Damaging Narrative Surrounding Sharks


“Dangerous, blood thirsty, sharp-toothed apex predator of the sea…” While reading this description, did your mind immediately conjure the image of a shark? 

Studies conducted in various parts of the world have found that there is a shared apprehension among people towards sharks. While some might dismiss it as a trivial fear, galeophobia (fear of sharks) can profoundly influence people’s behaviors – such as swimming preferences and recreational activities in and around the ocean -, or indirectly lead to overfishing, as people are less likely to want to protect an animal they are afraid of. Despite this prevalent fear, historical and cultural perspectives on sharks vary widely. For example, in some indigenous cultures, sharks are revered as sacred creatures, symbolizing strength and protection, and even a spiritual connection to their ancestors. Unfortunately, in the Western culture, Hollywood continues to exploit the widespread galeophobia among the public, as seen in blockbusters like “47 Meters Down” (1 & 2), “The Meg” (1 & 2), and “Sharknado”, which capitalize on the public’s fear of these iconic creatures. Moreover, the sensationalized portrayal of sharks in news and television perpetuates the perception of sharks as “mindless eating machines”, but the real truth is that sharks have a very complex reality and still face an extreme PR crisis. 

When did everything start?

In the summer of 1916, a series of shark attacks occurred along the coast of New Jersey, leaving four people dead and one seriously injured. Garnering substantial media attention, these attacks became known as the “12 Days of Terror” and inspired Peter Benchley’s best-selling 1974 novel Jaws. In 1975, Steven Speilberg adapted Jaws into the international blockbuster movie we know today. Since then, the perception of sharks as menacing predators has been deeply rooted in the collective public psyche. 

Interestingly, before Jaws, sharks were generally regarded as harmless creatures and, due to their lack of commercial value in the West, sharks were severely understudied in science, with little funding awarded towards shark research. Post-Jaws, however, people’s perception of sharks shifted, and the previously harmlessly-regarded ocean dwellers became known as the powerful beasts portrayed today. This fear led to a huge increase in shark fishing, and many populations of sharks plummeted after the release of Jaws. While fear became the primary narrative surrounding sharks, it was accompanied by a small happy consequence: It also inspired an uptick in shark research, and many shark scientists will tell you that the movie was a huge influence on their decision to study these animals. 

Luckily, despite their unfavorable reputation, the world has become more sympathetic towards sharks. In 2017, the Pew Research Center surveyed people from 20 countries across six continents about their attitudes towards sharks and marine conservation. This study found that, while there is still widespread fear of sharks in many parts of the world, there is also significant support for their protection and conservation. Across the countries surveyed, a majority of respondents expressed concern about the decline of shark populations and supported measures to protect them. 

CC: Bryan Skerry

Beyond Jaws: The True Horror of Human Impact on Sharks

In reality, humans are much more dangerous to sharks than they are to us. Humans have a one in 4.3 million chance of being killed by a shark; we are much more likely to be struck by lightning, killed by a bee sting or succumb to a fatal slip. In contrast, it is estimated that humans kill between 30 to 100 million sharks every year. 

In 2021, a research found that of the 536 species of shark assessed, 35.9% are currently threatened with extinction. Sharks face threats from numerous anthropogenic activities, including overfishing, habitat degradation and loss, pollution, climate change, and irresponsible tourism. 

While many shark fatalities due to fishing occur as accidental bycatch, sharks are also fished for their meat and fins, liver oil, cartilage, and skin. It is estimated that 1.5 million tonnes of sharks & rays are captured annually. 

Shark habitats, including mangroves, seagrass beds, and coral reefs, have endured significant harm from both direct and indirect human activities. The clearing of mangrove forests and seagrass meadows for purposes such as housing development and aquaculture plays a substantial role in the decline of shark populations. These areas often serve as crucial nurseries for young sharks and rays, offering vital sustenance and refuge. The degradation of these essential habitats markedly reduces the survival of these juvenile predators.

Sharks are also especially susceptible to pollutants. Carnivorous species do not only absorb pollutants from the environment around them but from their prey as well, leading to the rapid accumulation of toxins in their bodies. Planktivorous species, such as whale sharks and basking sharks, do not fare much better, regularly ingesting microplastics as they feed. 

Climate change also threatens sharks, changing migration patterns and population distributions. Most sharks are cold blooded, meaning that their whereabouts are dependent on the temperature of the water. Due to warming waters, sharks are able to migrate further polewards and are being spotted in waters and along coasts where they have not historically been seen. 

CC: Bryan Skerry

How Can You Help?

It is imperative that we shift the prevailing narrative surrounding sharks. Despite their critical ecological roles and diverse characteristics, the persistently negative perception of these creatures poses a significant obstacle to advancing shark conservation and research efforts. Sharks, which range in shapes and sizes, play vital roles in maintaining the balance of their ecosystems. By following reputable educational programs and knowledgeable scientists, we have the opportunity to foster informed narratives and dispel harmful, fear-mongering stereotypes that shroud sharks. Through this collective effort, we can cultivate a deeper appreciation for these magnificent beings and galvanize support for their conservation. Sharks embody beauty and diversity, as well as cultural and ecological importance, underscoring the urgent need for our concerted efforts to ensure their survival in our oceans.

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Asistente de comunicación (Internship)

MarAlliance es una organización internacional sin ánimo de lucro registrada en EE.UU., Belice, Panamá y Cabo Verde, cuyo objetivo es explorar, facilitar e inspirar cambios positivos para la fauna marina amenazada, especialmente tiburones y rayas, sus hábitats críticos y las comunidades humanas dependientes. Nuestra misión es amplia y ambiciosa, y trabajamos en tres idiomas y en siete países de tres regiones. Ante el declive de muchas poblaciones de megafauna marina, estas especies necesitan una voz fuerte, eficaz y con base científica que las represente para ayudar a los socios dependientes a dar forma a las estrategias y acciones de gestión y conservación para invertir el declive.

Resumen del puesto:

Buscamos a un becario (6 meses) proactivo, con conocimientos digitales y excelente capacidad de redacción y edición de textos, que apoye la creación de contenidos escritos de alta calidad y recursos multicanal para difundir el trabajo que MarAlliance realiza a través de sus plataformas en línea (sitio web, redes sociales, boletín, entre otras) y fuera de línea, y que interactúe con nuestro público externo para contribuir a nuestros objetivos generales de comunicación y marketing. El Asistente de Comunicación dependerá directamente del Coordinador de Comunicación y Marketing, y trabajará en estrecha colaboración con el resto del equipo para apoyarles en los elementos de comunicación de su trabajo.

Las funciones y responsabilidades incluirán, entre otras, las siguientes:

  1. Proporcionar apoyo creativo, editorial y operativo a los proyectos. 
  2. Apoyo en la organización, etiquetado y etiquetado del archivo fotográfico y gestión del archivo de vídeo.
  3. Gestión de la comunidad: Gestionar activamente los canales de medios sociales, así como identificar nuevas tendencias y oportunidades de colaboración. Generar reels y visuales.
  4. Apoyo en la redacción de artículos de blog (SEO) y contenido de boletines. 
  5. Ayudar a construir y desarrollar materiales, herramientas y acciones para campañas (online y offline).
  6. Ayudar en diferentes tareas relacionadas con la comunicación trabajando mano a mano con contratistas externos (desarrollador web, diseñador gráfico…) para mejorar el compromiso de las audiencias externas.
  7. Apoyo en la elaboración de informes de campañas y comunicaciones (Google Analytics, métricas de redes sociales, informes de marketing por correo electrónico).
  8. Como parte del Equipo de Comunicación de MarAlliance, apoyar al Coordinador de Comunicación y Marketing en cualquier otro proyecto de comunicación, coherente con las habilidades y experiencia del titular del puesto, en circunstancias no rutinarias.

Experiencia, conocimientos y aptitudes requeridos:

  1. Licenciatura en comunicación, periodismo, marketing o cualquier disciplina relacionada.
  2. Experiencia en comunicación digital o marketing.
  3. Pasión e interés por la naturaleza, la vida marina y la conservación.
  4. Capacidad demostrada para redactar y presentar comunicaciones creativas.
  5. Presencia y conocimientos de medios sociales y digitales.
  6. Capacidad para realizar múltiples tareas y detectar buenas historias.
  7. Capacidad para trabajar a distancia y cumplir los plazos establecidos.
  8. Conocimientos de diseño gráfico deseables, pero no necesarios.
  9. Conocimientos de edición de vídeo deseables pero no necesarios. 

Salario y prestaciones:

Estipendio durante 6 meses.


Español, con fluidez en inglés


Nacionales o residentes de Panamá, Belice, México, Honduras, Guatemala.

Este contrato será a distancia dentro de las zonas horarias de América, flexible, a tiempo completo y desde casa con hasta un 10% de viajes ocasionales locales e internacionales.

Cómo presentar la candidatura:

Por favor, envíe su currículum, portfolio si lo tiene, y carta de presentación a con “MAR-CA_Apellido” en el asunto antes del 21 de marzo, 2024. No se admiten llamadas.

Communications Assistant (Internship)

MarAlliance is an international non-profit registered in the US, Belize, Panama and Cabo Verde that aims to explore, enable and inspire positive changes for threatened marine wildlife – notably sharks and rays – their critical habitats and dependent human communities. Our remit is broad and ambitious, and we work in three languages and across seven countries encompassed by three regions. In the face of declines in many populations of marine megafauna, these species need a strong, effective, and science-based voice to represent them to help dependent partners shape management and conservation strategies and action to reverse declines.

Position summary:

We are seeking for a proactive, digitally savvy Paid Intern (6 month) Communications Assistant with excellent writing and copy editing skills, who will support the creation of high-quality written content and multichannel assets to broadcast the work MarAlliance does through its online (website, social media, newsletter, among others) and offline platforms, and engage with our external audiences to contribute to our overall communications and marketing goals. The Communications Assistant will directly report consistently to the Communications and Marketing Coordinator, and work closely with the rest of the team to support them on the communications elements of their work.

Duties and responsibilities will include but are not limited to:

  1. Provide creative, editorial, and operational project support. 
  2. Support organizing, labeling and tagging the photo archive and video archive management.
  3. Community Management: Actively manage social media channels, as well as identify new trends and collaboration opportunities. Generate reels and visuals.
  4. Support with writing blog articles (SEO) and newsletter content. 
  5. Help build and develop materials, toolkits, and actions for (online and offline) campaigns.
  6. Assist in different communications-related tasks working hand in hand with external contractors (web developer, graphic designer…) to improve the engagement of external audiences.
  7. Support in campaign and communications reporting (Google Analytics, social media metrics, email marketing reports)
  8. As part of the MarAlliance Communications Team, support the Communications and Marketing Coordinator with any other communications projects, consistent with the skills and expertise of the post holder, in non-routine circumstances.

Experience, Knowledge, and Skills Required:

  1. Bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, marketing or any related discipline.
  2. Experience working in digital communications and or marketing.
  3. Passion and interest for nature, marine life and conservation.
  4. Proven ability to write and deliver creative communications.
  5. Social Media and digital presence and knowledge.
  6. Ability to multitask and spot good stories.
  7. Capable of working remotely and meeting established deadlines.
  8. Graphic design skills are desirable but not required.
  9. Video editing skills are desirable but not required.

Salary and benefits:

Stipend for 6 month.


English, Spanish are mandatory.


Panama, Belize, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala nationals or residents. 

This contract will be remote within the Americas time zones, flexible, full-time and home-based with up to 10% occasional local and international travel.

How to apply:

Please send your resume, portfolio if you have one, and cover letter to with “MAR-CA_Last name” in the subject line by 21st of March, 2024. No calls please.