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Great shark-themed holiday gifts- including some that benefit science and conservation!

My friends and family have always appreciated my obsession passion for sharks, because it makes me extremely easy to shop for. In the spirit of the holiday season mantra that it is better to give than to receive, here is a list of some shark-themed gifts, including some that actually benefit shark research and conservation. If you buy in the next few days, there’s still time to get many of them delivered by Christmas.

Gifts that benefit science and conservation: 

1) Merchandise from the American Elasmobranch Society student store. The American Elasmobranch Society is one of the world’s largest scientific societies focusing on the science of sharks, skates and rays. We hold annual conferences which focus on professional networking and sharing knowledge, and one of the ways that the society pays for students to attend these conferences is through profits form the student store. You can find a variety of gifts, including shark fin ice cube trays, shark-shaped bottle openers, shark cookie cutters, 2012 calendars featuring world-class shark photography, shark and stingray Christmas tree ornaments, and AES logo clothing. The student store can be found here, and there is also a  Cafepress site which has additional merchandise. Disclaimer: I am a student member of the American Elasmobranch Society and serve on the student affairs committee.

2) Shark mouth backpacks from the Shark Savers online store. Shark Savers is a great marine conservation organization, and one of the ways they support their educational and lobbying activities is through proceeds from their online store. One of their most popular items is a series of backpacks and fanny packs that look like sharks’ mouths. Check out their online store here.

3) Merchandise from the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program online store. The RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation program at the University of Miami is actively involved in shark conservation research and education. 20% of sales from the online store benefit the lab’s research and outreach projects. Available merchandise includes a variety of clothing (field clothes, t-shirts, polos etc) and accessories (towels, blankets, gear bags) featuring the RJ Dunlap program’s hammerhead logo. You can find the online store here. Disclaimer: I am a student in the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program.

4) Adopting a shark from the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program. In addition to merchandise, the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program offers people the chance to directly support shark research by adopting a satellite-tagged shark. This technology allows RJ Dunlap scientists to monitor the real-time location of sharks using satellites and an easy-to-use Google Earth interface- anyone can track the sharks from here. If you adopt a shark, you get to name it, and we can try to get you out in the field with us to actually tag the shark. Satellite tags are expensive, however, and adopting a shark with one costs $2,000. The cost can be split between members of a family or organization, or between many students in a class. If you’re interested in adopting a shark, please see this website for more information. 

Great shark-themed gifts that don’t directly benefit science and conservation

5) The Shark Riddle on DVD. The Shark Riddle, part of a series of educational films by the sister-brother team at SisBro studios (get it?), is a great present for younger shark-o-philes. It tells the story of Laura and Rob (the sis and bro) who travel the world in search of the answer to a riddle about sharks. The movie includes HD footage of more than 20 species of shark and other marine animals, as well as some hilarious songs that will get stuck in your head. It also won the best children’s programming award at the prestigious Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. You can buy the Shark Riddle here.

6) Island of the Great White Shark on DVD. This fantastic documentary by Richard Theiss (RTSea productions) tells the story of Guadalupe, an island in Mexico where great white sharks gather in large numbers. Featuring some amazing footage and interviews with local scientists, Island of the Great White Sharks is one of my favorite shark documentaries. Learn more about this movie here. 

7) Remote-control flying shark. Need I say more? Check out the “air swimmer” here. This is a toy with absolutely no educational value whatsoever, but I want one and so do most of the other shark scientists I know.

That’s all the ideas I have, but if anyone knows of any other great shark gifts, please feel free to post them in the comments section. Happy holidays, everyone!