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In Like a Shark, out Like a Ray

You’ve all heard the old saying for March, “In like a lion out, like a lamb”. Loosely interpreted it represents a change in climate. I propose we declare this March, “In like a shark, out like a ray”. I know it doesn’t sound as poetic but does hold the same punch as the traditional.

Hawaii has bill coming up in its state legislature that will offer protection for the sharks and rays that inhabit its waters. The bill “establishes an offense of knowingly capturing, taking, possessing, abusing, entangling, or killing a shark in state marine waters, along with penalties and fines. Expands the existing prohibition on knowingly capturing or killing a manta ray in state marine waters to apply to all rays and to also include knowingly taking, possessing, abusing, or entangling a ray.” Its passing would certainly be a win for these in need of protection creatures.

As many know sharks and rays are vital in keeping a balance to the oceans ecosystem. Being top of the chain sharks keep the ecosystem balanced, regulate populations of other marine life, and ensure healthy fish stock and reefs.

They also need protection due to their vulnerability. Sharks and rays are long-lived and slow-growing which means they do not reach maturity and start reproducing well into their twenties. They also produce relatively few offspring per year which creates challenges when it comes to population decline. If the food chain is disrupted by a decline in the shark population, it affects the entire ocean ecosystem.

Protecting the Hawaiian shark is not only important to the ecosystem but is needed to help preserve the native Hawaiian culture as well. To understand the importance of the shark in the Hawaiian culture is to understand aumākua. Aumākua are intimate, spiritual members of a human family, taking the form of a certain animal or object. In Hawaiian culture, all things — animals, plants, rocks, rainbows, clouds — have an internal energy or spirit within them.

Hawaiian Shark Aumakua are regarded as family guardians and ancestors.

These beliefs are deeply embedded in Hawaiian culture. The aumakua are known to provide protection for native Hawaiians and to defend and seek to spend time with these animals is a cultural right. Please help the Hawaiian people, sharks and rays by signing the petition below.

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