Jess Vyvyan-Robinson

Hails from: Berkshire, England
Currently lives in: Widenham, KZN, South Africa
Favorite Place:Okavango Delta, Botswana or Tofo, Mozambique
Favorite Things to Do: Swimming with sharks, photographing wildlife, writing about  travelling and being on the sea
Favorite Shark: Zebras, tigers, blacktips and bonnetheads

What shark are you most like and why? 
Probably the blacktips, because I like warm water, being around all my friends and I’m always hungry!

How did sharks draw you into their watery world?
I stopped over in Hong Kong on my way home from New Zealand in 2009, and ended up in the fish markets there. I was horrified at the endless shops full of shark fins, and particularly by the whole tail of a whale shark that I saw hanging in a window. I had no idea that these incredible, iconic animals were being slaughtered on such a huge scale- it broke my heart. That day changed my life: I got my scuba certification, started volunteering for Sea Shepherd and applied to shark conservation internships in Mozambique and South Africa as soon as I got home. 

Don't judge sharks until you’ve been in the water with them and experienced them firsthand. I’ve seen so many people who are terrified of sharks and convinced that they are mindless killers come out of the water after encountering them with an entirely different perspective. I truly believe that once you swim with a shark, you can’t help but appreciate how beautiful and smart they are, and want to get involved in the fight to save them.

Inspire Us!:
I believe that education and research are the two most important areas for shark conservation to focus on. Right now, I am working with Mark and Gail Addison in KwaZulu-Natal, taking people to swim with the sharks and hoping to educate them through their experiences that these beautiful creatures are worth saving. I am also helping to set up an internship here, which will enable international students to contribute to the vital research on blacktip sharks that is being done in the area. This research will hopefully be the key to achieving protected status for the blacktips within the Aliwal Shoal M.P.A. My specific role in this internship programme is to facilitate education initiatives in local schools, with the aim of instilling a love for sharks and an understanding of the importance of conservation in the next generation. I believe that this is crucial, because ultimately, it is the children of today who will be the shark heroes of tomorrow. 

Organizations I Support:
Sea Shepherd, Cuvier Marine Lab, Save Our Seas

Short Bio:
I grew up in England, and studied Classics at King’s College London and the University of North Carolina. I swam with my very first sharks, a school of blacktip reef sharks, in the Galapagos Islands when I was thirteen and fell in love at first sight… I worked at London Aquarium during my time studying, and have volunteered on shark conservation projects in Mozambique, South Africa and Honduras. My greatest hope is that I will be able to make a difference to the fight to save our sharks, and I plan on doing whatever it takes to make that happen.