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Changing The World

23 August 2014: posted by BigChange

We recently had the pleasure of hosting Rob Stewart on the first cycle leg of the Virgin Strive Challenge. He did a fantastic job cycling with us in his Shark Suit to promote his #FinFree Campaign. At the age of twenty, he embarked on a mission to bring the issue of shark slaughtering to the public eye. Rob and his crew faced countless obstacles on the way, ranging from corruption of local authorities, espionage, attempted murder charges and even life-threatening diseases such as West Nile, Tuberculosis and Flesh-eating Disease. In spite of all these challenges, his team showed insurmountable resilience, pushing through and creating Shark Water, which won Documentary of the Year in 2007. Below is a piece from Rob about his journey and why we should all strive for something bigger than ourselves…

When I was 20, I embarked on my most exciting photo assignment yet – to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – to photograph my favourite animals – hammerhead sharks. Instead of finding sharks in all their majesty, I found a fishing line that would stretch from earth to outer space with thousands of baited hooks and hundreds of dead and dying sharks. Sharks were being slaughtered even in the most protected reserves on earth, decimating their populations by 90%. The demand for shark fin soup, a Chinese delicacy was killing 100 million sharks a year… and it seemed nobody noticed or cared.
At that moment in the Galapagos, I vowed to do something to stop the slaughter of sharks.

After failing at saving sharks with magazine articles, I decided to make a film that I hoped could show people sharks through my eyes, alleviating our fear of them in hopes people would fight for their protection. I didn’t really consider that the size of this task, I just knew something had to be done, and this was the biggest thing I could do.

I didn’t really consider that the size of this task, I just knew something had to be done, and this was the biggest thing I could do.

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Sharkwater took four years and 12 countries to complete…. but it worked. People took up the cause and fought for sharks and now they have more protection than ever before…. That journey taught me we can all change the world, if we only try. The only variable being – how much we change the world and in what direction.
Now we have a larger task than saving sharks. We have to save our life support system – the life that gives us our food, water and air….. and we have to do it quickly.

That journey taught me we can all change the world, if we only try.

Fortunately, we know what to do, have all the resources to do it, have billions of people connected through social networks and millions of conservation groups dedicated to the cause. We just need to do it. The world has never needed your hope and bravery more, and never has there been a better time to strive for something greater than yourself and create the kind of world and life we’re capable of.

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The world has never needed your hope and bravery more, and never has there been a better time to strive for something greater than yourself and create the kind of world and life we’re capable of.

We want to extend a huge thank you to Rob for sharing his Big Change story with us and showing us that changing the world is possible when you stay focused on the task and push through in the face of obstacles.