Four things everyone needs to know about sharks: A shark conservation documentary and lesson plan

One week after the world premier at the Benthic Ecology conference’s Beneath the Waves Film Festival, I am pleased to announce that my new shark conservation mini-documentary, “four things everyone needs to know about sharks”, is now available on YouTube.

Check it out here:

If you are an educator, the movie is intended to be part of a lesson plan about shark conservation. I have created a middle school version, a high school version, and a college version. Contact me at WhySharksMatter AT gmail DOT com with the subject “Shark Lesson Plan” and I’ll send you what I have, or we can discuss making a custom lesson plan that suits the specific needs of your class.

If you are not an educator but care about sharks, the movie can be a stand-alone way to educate your friends, family, coworkers, classmates, etc.

Please let me know what you think about the video by commenting on this blog post.

Thanks to all of my photographer and musician partners in this project!

Check out their websites:

Richard Theiss, RTSea Productions.

Annie Crawley, Dive Into Your Imagination

New England Aquarium

Marine Photobank

Rems Productions

Jason Robertshaw

Karen Elaine

Sons of the Pacific

Partners without websites:

Django Manglunki


Robert Thorn


David Heller


  1. Anne Marie · March 20, 2010

    Liked the film. Just two criticism’s The music was too loud in parts for me to hear the commentary which was very frustrating! you need to tone down the music and increase your voice level so that people can hear properly and not loose interest.

    • WhySharksMatter · March 20, 2010

      That sounds like just one criticism. What was the other?

  2. Tony Wildish · March 20, 2010

    nice documentary! I like the idea of focussing on four points, that makes it easier to take on board. Anyone thinking about it later will know easily if they’ve remembered it all or not.

    I have to say that I found the music somewhat distracting, especially in the first segment. It’s too loud and powerful for me, it made it hard to hear what you were saying. I’d have preferred something softer, that didn’t compete with your voice.

    I like the graphics showing the effects of removing the apex predator, and the examples you gave. That brought the point across very clearly.

    When are you going to make a sequel?

  3. WhySharksMatter · March 20, 2010

    Your concerns are heard, friends (as are Andrew’s concerns about mass extinction events voiced earlier in Tweets).

    I’ll modify the sound in the first section, as well as the incorrect sentence about mass extinction events, and repost soon.

    Does anyone else have anything they’d like me to edit?

    • Southern Fried Scientist · March 20, 2010

      Can you have it so the image credits don’t cover up chunks of the images? They don’t need to be so huge.

    • WhySharksMatter · March 20, 2010

      Are you talking about in general, or in the trophic cascade sequences with multiple images on a page?

      In the movie as a whole, some filmmakers requested a specific font size as a condition of me having access to their footage, and I wanted to be consistent.

      I can make the sequences with the trophic cascades easier to read.

    • Southern Fried Scientist · March 20, 2010

      In general, there’s a few spots where the text is covering up a quarter of the screen, very distracting.

    • WhySharksMatter · March 20, 2010

      I’ll play around with it and see what I can do. Thanks for the tip.

    • Southern Fried Scientist · March 20, 2010

      Perhaps finding a smooth and smarmy narrator. Surely there must be a voice actor among the cartilage-heads?

  4. Colin McIntire · March 20, 2010

    I really like this documentary (especially the music)! I’ll be sure to post it on my Facebook and maybe even use it at school. I have never seen shark-finning in action and that really shocked me. You guys sound a little monotone and it sorta throws me off but overall well done David!

  5. Angela Williams · March 21, 2010

    That was brilliant. Everyone needs to see this. What people forget and don’t realize is that the ocean is not ours. It belongs to the living creatures that inhabit it. Humans destroy everything. We were put here to live a long side of animals. People don’t understand the value of predators. People would rather be afraid of them than learn about them and learn the importance of them. I thank you very much for making that documentary. I was in tears when I saw the definning. I knew about it, which is why I don’t eat fish of any kind, or meat for that matter, but to see it actually happening was just heart breaking. Thank you for your hard work in preserving one of my favorite animals. You are greatly appreciated! 😀

  6. Alison Wheatley · March 21, 2010

    Thank you for making the documentary, and for having lesson plans available. We share this planet with the animals, and it would be a very sick and lonely planet without them. The shark fin soup ad was great. Comparing the numbers or people killed by cancer vs. killed by sharks, and pointing out that sharks could find people much more often if they were looking, was brilliant! Everyone should see this video.

  7. Sally Diamond · March 21, 2010

    I have just watched this video and it is pretty disturbing to realise just how drastic this situation is. What you are doing and the way you are making more people aware is fantastic and I wholly support you in your cause.

    • CollegeOpinion132006 · April 29, 2010

      I agree. I feel that your attempts to raise the awareness for these animals is a great deed that will hopefully pay off in the long run. I do however wish you would show more stats on the actual slide so that people can read the facts for themselves. I would also recommend talking in less of a monotone voice and show your care for these animals in your voice as well.

  8. Wilberth Gamboa · March 21, 2010

    I really like your documentary and hope more people learn the reality about sharks and forget the idea of the man eating machine that “Jaws” put on everyone´s mind,I will help to spread your word with all the people I know and hope that sharks get saved before its to late.

  9. Vera Dalla Costa · March 22, 2010

    Ab fab, I do like it! People need to watch this video to know better about sharks!!!
    About the music, I must agree with the others, it’s too loud, I thought that maybe it was me, because I’m Italian…, the one who couldn’t understand properly the words… Anyway, thank u, great job indeed!!! Keep going!!! I share it!!!

  10. Emilio C. Suarez IV · March 22, 2010

    Thank you for making this video – hopefully more and more people will see this video and be aware that Sharks Fin Soup is tasty because of the other ingredients and not because of the Sharks Fin. Hopefully you can get more support from more and more famous people so that others will listen and follow suit! More power to you and your efforts!

  11. Adriana Durazo · March 22, 2010

    Great video, short and easy to get… one sugestion… spanish!!!! i had no problems understanding it at all but it would have been a lot mmmm how to say…. amusing?? in my own lenguage. I know it may be alittle too mucho to ask for since you are already doing all this great and amazing work, but maybe subtitles???
    How ever it was great to watch, i don´t know a lot about sharks, but lately i´ve been curious about them, i live in Cozumel Quintana Roo, Mexico and this year i want to scuba dive with the bull sharks!!! So i want to get to know as much as posible about them.. Thanks David.

  12. Tricia Meredith · March 23, 2010

    Very nice! I like how succinct it is. Very easy to understand. If you wanted to get fancy, I think you could do a little better with the graphics in the trophic cascade sections. Maybe multiple cutouts of each species (rather than 1-2 photo boxes), arrows showing relationships, etc…

    I’m posting it on my blog!

    • Whysharksmatter · March 23, 2010

      Thanks, Tricia!

      What do you mean by “multiple cutouts”? I’m intrigued, because I agree that the trophic cascade shots could be improved. I’m considering asking an artist friend to help with that part.

  13. Robert · March 24, 2010

    I would think twice about broadly supporting the Marine Stewardship Council’s certified products in your video. MSC is far too easy on the fishing industry and often gives ecolabels to inherently unsustainable fisheries. It is probably a better practice to go on a product-by-product basis than using MSC ecolabels as a determining factor when deciding what seafood to buy.
    Other than that one comment about MSC, great video about sharks! I hope you get lots of requests to use it in the classroom.

  14. cpcofc · April 6, 2010

    Thanks for making this movie! I thoroughly enjoyed watching this video because before watching it I was not very fond of sharks. I feel like I have a greater respect for sharks now! The footage was great and the statistics really stood out to me. Having the main points written out was nice for visual learners like me. The only suggestions I would have would be for audio enhancements. There are some points where the audio sounds more like a recording than an actual narration. Besides this I would recommend this video to teachers and students interested in sharks.

  15. George Kapushy · April 6, 2010

    Thank you for doing what I have not been able to or not made time to do. I agree with the initial criticisms about the sound and the credits through out the film. Please keep up the good work.

  16. dani · April 12, 2010

    I really find this to be an eye opener, I hope more people are able to watch it!
    I am not a huge fan of sharks, just because I am scared of them, but I am more aware and I hope others are too!
    Is there anyway you could play this in Biology classes? I am sure some teachers would love it.

  17. CollegeOpinion132006 · April 28, 2010

    I understand your concern for the well being of sharks and the overall marine life, however I feel that until movies and t.v. channels begin to show the same love for these animals and stop portraying them as killing machines we will never get past the idea of them being such things. I myself never understood how beneficial sharks are to maintain a balance in marine life. From your video I now understand that humans may have fears of these animals due to movies, but that if we do not understand the true value of the shark then soon our oceans will be infested with many other animals that sharks once kept under control. Due to this I noticed you mentioned we could have a serious loss in coral reefs or over populations of many different fish species. I respect your video and your attempts to make a push for change in the way we view sharks, however I do want to say that you need to show more stats on the screen so that people can read them and better understand your point. Overall I learned a lot from this video and plan on learning more about how the sharks are being negatively portrayed and falsely accused of being killing machines.

  18. BioCofC · April 29, 2010

    This was a very good video. I enjoyed. It had things that I already knew and then things I didn’t knew for example that sharks are becoming exticted. I also didnt knew that people just cut off the fins of sharks and throw them back in the ocean for leave them to die. That is very wrong to do. This was very educational and I really enjoyed it. I also did not know that sharks were that important. I knew they were important but I didn’t know that so many marine animals and plants were affected by them. I agree that we should educate people about sharks.

  19. To Make Room for the Cupcake · May 1, 2010

    This documentary was very comprehensible (other than a little feedback). I very much enjoyed the music in the background, and it suited the topic. Would there be a way that you could put the citations at the end of the documentary so that they do not distract from the content in the video? I liked that you used bullets, and I especially liked that you repeated them at the end because it helps reinforce the material, both for visual and auditory learners. I can see how the video can work into a lesson plan – it is short enough that one can expand from the video into a lecture.

  20. Nick · September 14, 2010

    I enjoyed the flow of the video, very easy to follow and as other have sort of mentioned is that I like four very important points you used when there are many more but narrowing it down was a good call. Two-thumbs from both me and my nephew.

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