Human Journey

Saving Sharks One Photo at a Time


Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias). Guadalupe Island (Mexico). You can order this print at the National Geographic Art Store by clicking the image. Photograph © KIKE CALVO.


Oceans have been a part of my childhood exploring dreams for as long as I can remember. Truth is, the seas and its creatures that I fantasized about back then, are permanently being affected by human actions. The first time you jump in the water with a great white shark, your fears melt into fascination and respect. With the experience, the feeling of observing a wild shark in their environment, triggers in your soul a sensation of respect, that in many cases, never goes away.

In my travels around the world I have encountered great hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks, and stores full of dry shark fins. Yet, I never had the chance to meet Shark Stanley. But now you can, even from home.

Stanley is traveling around the world with his friends, to support shark and manta ray protections at the upcoming Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in March 2013 in Bangkok. 

You may wonder, has Kike gone crazy? I must say, not yet. This idea is part of a recently launched grassroots campaign aimed at shark conservation. A collaboration between two graduate students at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the Pew Environment GroupShark Savers, and Shark Defenders.

The Shark Stanley global petition stems from the widely shared opinion of concerned citizens around the world, that the overfishing of shark and manta ray species is completely unacceptable. Over a month ago, Shark Stanley was beautifully painted into being as the charismatic hammerhead shark with the calling to educate and inspire world citizens to take a stand for shark conservation. This petition calls for more stringent conservation regulations for shark and manta ray species that will be enforced through the mechanism of an international treaty.

This March, in Bangkok, Thailand, representatives of 177 countries, will be voting either for or against more tightened regulations of the hammerhead, porbeagle and oceanic whitetip sharks, and the manta ray, at the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) meeting. The petition asks individuals to pose with Shark Stanley in photographs as an alternative to offering written signatures. As a lead-up to this critical meeting, the Shark Stanley team, which is a network of individuals, and over forty organizations, will be raising awareness, and sending out mosaic collages of the photo petitions to all of the CITES delegates.

Shark Stanley Collage
One of the campaign's goal is to educate youth around the world about the species that govern marine ecosystems through the complex web of trophic cascades, and to inspire and mobilize them to engage in an endeavor to preserve these rich ecosystems. You can help spread the word. A cutout of Shark Stanley is being circulated for you to download. Just cut him out and take a photo with him!


One of the campaign’s goals is to educate youth around the world about the species that govern marine ecosystems through the complex web of trophic cascades, also to inspire, and mobilize them to engage in an endeavor to preserve these rich ecosystems. At the same time, the campaign seeks the YES vote that is needed to enforce the necessary conservation regulations. In order to do so, the campaign is looking for 5,000 photos, with representation from all 177 voting countries. Currently, the campaign has been able to collect 1,500 photos from 85 countries.


Award-winning photographer, journalist, and author Kike Calvo (pronounced key-keh) specializes in culture and environment. He has been on assignment in more than 90 countries, working on stories ranging from belugas in the Arctic to traditional Hmong costumes in Laos. Kike is pioneering in using small unmanned aerial systems to produce aerial photography as art, and as a tool for research and conservation. He is also known for his iconic photographic project, World of Dances, on the intersection of dance, nature, and architecture. His work has been published in National Geographic, New York Times, Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair, among others. Kike teaches photography workshops and has been a guest lecturer at leading institutions like the School of Visual Arts and Yale University. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic blog Voices. He has authored nine books, including Drones for Conservation; So You Want to Create Maps Using Drones?; Staten Island: A Visual Journey to the Lighthouse at the End of the World; and Habitats, with forewords by David Doubilet and Jean-Michel Cousteau. Kike’s images have been exhibited around the world, and are represented by the National Geographic Image Collection. Kike was born in Spain and is based in New York. When he is not on assignment, he is making gazpacho following his grandmother’s Andalusian recipe. You can travel to Colombia with Kike:
  • Onon Bayasgalan

    Amazing article Kike!! Go Shark Stanley!! I believe he needs many many more supporters who will take photos with him and send to the campaign!!

  • Celi

    This is very cool! Keep up the wonderful efforts. I hope to help where I can. Stanley’s been around! He’s da man 😉 We even brought him with us to Paris this past December!

  • Megan

    This is amazing! I’ll see what I can do to help! Maybe I’ll dig through my closet to find my old Shark Shop Shirt. 😀

  • Aakanksha

    Very cool work! Excited be able to help where I can 🙂

  • STaiX

    Cool,for this I gonna make a shirt with a deadly Shark with some expressions to prove that this animals need more help!

  • Chef LeeZ

    I am looking for the Shark Month promotion I thought was on now but can’t find. Do you know its url?

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