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S1 Ep5: Sharon Kwok on Love Nature & Respect Life
Episode 98th July 2022 • Surface Time with Stephanie • Stephanie Luo
00:00:00 00:40:22

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I sat down with Sharon Kwok for a cuppa as she was fresh off the boat from Raja Ampat and en route back to Hong Kong. Sharon is an artist well-known in Hong Kong public broadcasting and cinematic fields. As a conservationist, she unapologetically leverages her connections with public and private sectors to support her marine and wildlife conservation works and to influence changes. Her passion and commitment to marine and wildlife conservation is infectious. It is totally cool to catch this bug.

Connect with Sharon

W: https://www.aquameridian.org/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/AquaMeridianHK

IG: https://www.instagram.com/sharon_kwok_aquameridian/

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W: https://www.surfacetimechats.com/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/surfacetimechats

IG: @surfacetimechats or https://www.instagram.com/surfacetimechats/

TG: https://t.me/surfacetimechats

TW: @surfacetimechat (no “s”)

E: faith@surfacetimechats.com


Transcripts

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During Surface Time today, I sat down with Sharon Kwok for a cuppa as she was fresh off the boat from Raja Ampat and en-route back to Hong Kong. Sharon is an artist well-known in Hong Kong public broadcasting and cinematic fields. As a conservationist, she unapologetically leverages her connections with public and private sectors to influence changes and support her conservation works. Her passion and commitment to marine and wildlife conservation is infectious and it is totally cool to catch this bug.

And then, so it's started recording. I'm going to record this one just in case this one work and which they always do that to me.

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[00:01:09] Stephanie (2): Really?

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[00:01:11] Stephanie (2): Oh yeah.

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[00:01:18] Stephanie (2): And they actually go out. Do they recognise their way back?

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[00:01:32] Stephanie (2): Yeah.

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So I know he's around. He actually got I think he got sick once. I think he ate some poisonous something or other, and he flew into a fencing in my garden and I caught him. I brought him to Kadoorie Farm and he recovered. They sent me video of him flying off. And three months later he shows up in my garden again. I thought "great! He's way out in the new territory's is great. He should be happy, wild wilderness, lots of food". Nope. He had to come back to the city. It's crazy. Hong Kong city is not the best place for wild birds. I don't think. But they're used to it. In fact they are messed up.

For example, there are number of Corvettes that have restructured their time so that they seem to be waking up in the middle of the night. And these are not Nightingales. They're corvettes.

My son jogs at two, 3:00 AM. He likes to jog at night and he brings his dog. There's a lot of snakes in Hong Kong. So one time, his dog got bit by a bamboo pit Viper, and we had to bring him into the veterinarian. But I also noticed that because of the street lamp as a lot of birds awake at night. So we've messed up their time. They're completely just messed up.

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[00:02:50] Sharon: You have a number of corvettes such as starlings and notice darlings around here. And I love them. I think they're great. They're quite fearless. I was in some Chinese restaurant on the street corner that was open. So people eating inside the birds coming in and just walking around, helping themselves to leftovers.

I think it's great. Yeah. Yeah.

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[00:03:18] Sharon: Usually around six o'clock ish. When it starts to get dark, all the birds start making noise. My home as well.

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[00:03:26] Sharon: It's the natural instinct. Yeah. Everyone come home. It's getting late. We're going to sleep soon. Come home. It's just, yeah. That's what it is.

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[00:03:43] Sharon: You would have the Greater hornbill here. The ones that fly near you, do you hear them when they fly?

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[00:03:49] Sharon: There's a sound when they fly. It's the sound of their wings. They make this funny distinctive sound as their wings flap, if it's the Greater Hornbill.

And of course the other one the one that's highly endangered, one of the CITES Appendix One animals along with rhino and Panda, is the Helmeted Hornbill. That would not be here.

That is very exclusive to certain areas. I hope people can work harder on conservation efforts for that bird. Because it's a stunning bird. Some people say it looks ugly. Some people say it's beautiful. I think it's unique. I actually have a puppet of one made life size.

So the wingspan is bigger than this and the tail is as long as the Macaw. There's lots of wrinkles and it's the only hornbill with a solid cask. It's so solid that the Chinese kill it to make jewelry.

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[00:04:34] Sharon: That's what they call Red Gold. Ivory is White Gold and Rhino Horn is Black Gold.

So the three golds that the illegal trade talk about. Red Gold is that one. So it's a lot of money involved, but people kill the bird for that. It's a very unique bird. You can't easily breed them. It's not like the Bali Myna. You find them a nice Avery, put them in there though, sorted out. Even those are endangered, but it's doable.

These Hill Mynahs is another one, a big one. There's only, I think three or four left in the world. That one should be breedable but they didn't manage.

But the Helmeted Hornbill, it requires a tree that's about the size of this table. If maybe a little bit smaller. And the height needs to be around 60 to 70 meters high where they actually nest.

And these are usually they have to find the old previously used hole. So usually other animals like binturongs, they may have created a hole and every year other things use it. Because it's such a big bird. It needs a very big space. The males have a breeding dance. It's not even a dance. They fly at each other in the middle of the sky and they ran each other with their heads and you hear "booh". It's like two baseball bats and whichever bird just couldn't deal with it anymore goes. And the female goes to the one that can manage it basically can take all the pain or whatever. So they mate and the female moves into this hole that they find they clean it up. Then she goes naked. She loses all her feathers and she lays one egg sometimes two, very rare. But during this time they close the entrance completely. And there's only one little hole. So it's reliant on the male to bring food back.

If the male is hunted, if he dies, the whole family dies.

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[00:06:15] Sharon: So this is this has been going on for some time. It's very stressful because the whole thing should not need to get to this point. I think the problem is the buyers are not educated. They don't know what they're buying.

Many years ago, I used to source ivory and precious gems for my mother. She owned a jewelry shop in San Francisco. So I bought ivory for her. I could tell if it's Asian elephant or African, just by looking at it. Because that was my job. But the first time I came across Helmeted Hornbill cask, it was carved into Guanyin's face, beautiful workmanship.

And I thought, this is interesting. What is it? I was teenager. And the person said, "oh, it's something from the bird. It looks like a crane. They're not endangered. It's just beautiful. But it's quite rare. You should buy it for your mother's her birthday coming up." that sort of thing. And I bought it and that was many years ago.

I'm 52 now. And I was like 18 when that happened. So when I got involved with working for IUCN pushing endangered species, things like that, it came across my information about hornbills and I learned about them. And then I realized what I had and I got quite angry. So I asked my mother if I can have it back.

And she had put diamonds around it and everything as well. Yeah. So I took it back and I bring it to schools. I show kids, I talk about it. Never buy this. I was duped into buying it. People who sell you things, really, the only goal is to make money. It's possible that if they were educated properly, they won't do it.

But they probably come from a long line of people that live like that. It's like fisheries, you talk to them about certain fisheries collapsing, certain species disappearing. "Oh no, it's never going to happen. Why is it going to happen? My great-grandfather was doing it. Bullshit. It's not going to happen if it were going to happen, what happened before?"

That's what they say. But then it happens. And when it happens, "oh really? I guess it could happen."

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[00:08:28] Sharon: All of that again. Pardon the French. But all of that really is bullshit. Even if it were a part of culture, which it isn't, and even if it were, I wouldn't be proud of having that as part of my culture. But even if it were, people continually change. We need to. If we don't change, we're going to end up in a planet with biodiversity damaged to such a point by us that we won't survive.

Now life will probably go on, but will it include human beings or not? That's a different thing.

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[00:08:59] Sharon: Who knows life may change to such a point in the future that there's something eating plastics and surviving, who knows.

But what are we doing? Are we really concerned enough and responsible enough about doing something for our future generations. I think it's very important. For me, it started with basically a lot of animals.

As a child, I was one of those that could follow an ant for hours to see what it did. " Oh. It went back to the nest. Oh, it's moving food. Oh, maybe if I put a rice here, see what it does." So you notice there are children like that. I was one of those. And for me, the conservation path has been riddled with a lot of questions and issues that I had to resolve even within myself, because we were taught certain things growing up. Okay. I was brought up in a family that wouldn't think twice about eating shark fin or anything else.

All right. And most of us were. So what makes us take the change? Education. So I think at this point in stage, it's vital for us, for the planet, for our future to somehow manage getting the right information to the next generation and onwards.

I think for older people, the elders, to get them to change sometimes might be it's either impossible or too hard. And really is it going to make a lot of difference? Probably not. If they have one meal at home in hiding and they eat shark fin, okay, it's 10 bowls of shark fin. So nature can cope with that.

Not that I agree with it, but the point now is to deal with things in such a way that we don't wipe things out. People are still taking sharks from the oceans at unprecedented rates. We think that even though our work has managed to cut shark fin consumption throughout the south east Asia by 90%.

Sounds great. Wow. We did it. Yes and no. We've changed mindsets. There are less people ordering shark fins for banquets, especially weddings because the younger generation they know better now.

But it's the traders. They think that well, shark fins is something that they can store indefinitely. We can put it away a hundred years from now.

They can still cook it. It's dried. It's a product that they can store indefinitely. So they're banking on possibly extinction. This goes the same for the people dealing in ivory and many other things. They bank on extinction because if something is extinct then they can sell it really. Because right now things are a certain legislation is in place because we want to protect the remaining living of whatever species.

When everything's going, they'll make a lot of money. It's actually just really disgusting.

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Before we go more into the conservation, I want to ask you about diving. something more fun. I have found that diving is a nice icebreaker when you meet people.

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[00:11:52] Stephanie (2): Yeah. You could just meet the person like a second ago, and ended up having a very inspirational, insightful conversations that you walk away with something not necessarily to just diving itself, it could be like your work on the conservations and animals, underwater, on land and up in the sky.

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[00:12:12] Stephanie (2): What was your last memorable dive?

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We're all divers, I don't really need to elaborate, we know what to expect. But to me, I think there was a little breakthrough because I try to avoid underwater photography. Because we all know that is like a bottomless pit and you might as well forget about, there goes your money really, so you could easily spend as much on a setup as a car.

And some of those cameras, hard to say no to. They're really sexy. So I avoid all that. So I try to just stay away. But the thing about diving for me is I enjoy meeting all these underwater creatures and I want to keep my memories of meeting them. So what better way than to take a picture?

So I went there with my little dinky Olympus. I actually managed to get a very good picture of a pygmy seahorse with it this time.

It's a good little camera. Come on. Of course. If you compare to the big guys where their babe, it's like a shopping cart that they're bringing down. Okay. You can't compare to that.

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[00:13:38] Sharon: There were times going on land checking out old caves down south side. There were some areas where people buried people in ledges and with skeletons, just sitting around. These are very old. You know how there's all these little islands and some of them are tiny, so it's just off the water by about maybe 8-10 feet. And if there's like a hollowed out little cave or a ledge. No one really knows what that's about anymore.

The person I went with his name is Edi Frommenwiler and he's the captain of Pindito. In fact, he's the first liveaboard in Raja. He actually built his boat by himself.

It was all hand built. He hired a crew. They were chopping away. I saw the video. I was just amazed. The whole thing was just hand-built. So I stayed on this thing. And because he's lived there for 30 years, he's really seen the area. And a lot of these places are just in his head. He doesn't even put it down.

I think finding someone like him who really knows these areas is important. Otherwise you won't get to see them. That's all there is to it.

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[00:14:46] Sharon: Oh plenty.

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[00:14:50] Sharon: Things have disappeared, but not completely. And of course we both are keen on conservation issues and we've been talking a lot about that. And it's depressing, but one mustn't give up hope because we're looking at what we still have. And it's actually quite resilient if we get educated quickly enough, if we give things a chance, it'll come back.

So really we have to wake up.

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[00:15:21] Sharon: There are a few and there are a number of Marine protected areas as well.

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[00:15:33] Sharon: To be honest, what I saw was not pleasant or encouraging because these areas, they are what they are. They couldn't recover unless we look after them. When you get down the food chain of government, it boils down to: Are things being policed? Are people observing the rules? In Hong Kong, there are rules and regulations, and people do observe them as long as they have to.

If there's no one policing, they'll still go into Marine protected areas and certain areas where we were, people fishing. They weren't supposed to, but we asked them if you complain, "oh, he happens to be the cousin or the brother or the son of whoever's in charge, then they do what they want, but that's basically what's still going on."

So I think people need to really feel their responsibility stronger.

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[00:16:28] Sharon: Yes.

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[00:16:32] Sharon: Yes.

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[00:16:35] Sharon: My biggest problem is there's only one me and there's too much I want to do.

And on top of that, there's too much that really needs to be done. It's not simply my wanting to do it. It's what I see needs to be done. And I'm quite happy to get others involved or inspire other people to go and do it because I can't do everything. I'm getting run down.

Because of the two past years and the whole COVID thing, I've been stationary in Hong Kong for quite some time. That has made me much more aware of what's been going on with some of Hong Kong's local pet trade and mainly parrots. So I think COVID has affected Hong Kong people quite differently.

They've been getting more pets and a lot of them have chosen to get parrots. But also a lot of them haven't learned enough before getting a parrot. So there are some main points and AquaMeridian actually is getting involved with parrots in Hong Kong. We intend to help educate people because people sell parrots, their job isn't to educate you, their job is to make money, sell you the bird.

If it dies great, come back, buy another one. Often they're like that. For me though, each bird is very important. Parrots live a very long life. It's a very intelligent animal. We can't treat them like we don't treat chickens very well. For example not that's a good thing but honestly, parrots, we are looking at something with a lifespan that far exceeds a dog or a cat, something that's extremely empathetic. Many parrots if their owners pass away, they would go into rut.

They would pluck their feathers until there's only a headful of feathers left. Their whole bodies like naked. Especially, Moluccan cockatoos are quite known for doing that. They get very emotional over things. So people that consider getting a Parrot need to consider, first of all, do they want to commit to a pet that lives that long?

Secondly, if something happens to them, will there be someone else to take over? Like I made sure my son could deal with it, for example, something like that. And then can you manage something that makes a lot of noise. Now you can train your parrot, not to be too noisy or maybe avoid certain hours of making too much noise.

But a parrot is a parrot. They are essentially pretty wild at heart. See even though we've been keeping parrots for thousands of years, African Grey, for example. But essentially they haven't been changed from their wild counterparts. If you take a captive bred African Grey and you don't cuddle it much, you raise it in such a way that it could be released back into the wild. It will be a successful release they can manage.

It's not like a dog that we've hybridized and bred and changed so much or certain cats. These are essentially still animals that are basically similar or same as their wild cousins. So you're dealing with an animal that has all of these instincts.

They make noises. They need to call out to each other. They need their flock for comfort and companionship. You can't provide them with other birds. You provide them with yourself and your family. You give them time. You need to train your bird. If you keep a bird with yourself all the time and you don't bring it out you can do that, but you might end up with a bird that isn't well socialized, might end up biting strangers.

And when a parrot means it, they may bite. It's a serious bite. They're basically flying pliers. It's a very strong bite if they intend to. Parrot owners need to ensure that they have basic training of their birds. Now also, would you happen to have any people at home, any family members that have allergies to bird feathers?

There's certain things that you have to consider. Do you have space for a bird? For me, I think it's okay, if people live in an apartment; at night, when they sleep, they put the bird on a perch next to their bed and they sleep or in a cage near them and they sleep and at daytime or when they're out and about, they take the bird around with them.

I think this is a good way because these birds basically need a lot of intellectual stimulation. They can't be bored. They're like three or four year old children. They cannot be bored. They play until they're tired. And then they sleep. So you're dealing with something like that.

Do you have the energy? Do you want to? Now if you've decided, okay, you might be able to do that. Then you study up on which specific species. Some are louder. Some are simply bigger and need more space or could damage things, a great deal more. Oh and they do damage things. Parrot owners generally do have damages in their home.

Yeah. They forage it's their instinct. To stop them rather than scolding your bird or teaching them not to do it, which you're really not supposed to, you give them enrichment tools, lots of toys for them to destroy and they will. So you get them more.

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[00:21:41] Sharon: I don't think it's a bad thing. Whatever motivates a person to get an animal initially may not be a bad thing. The good and bad comes, when the person doesn't look after the animal. So some people may happen to cross a dog on the freeway, pick it up. They've never owned a dog before they never thought about owning a dog, but then they become the best owner.

So it's not really the process or the reason of why you're getting the animal. But what actually happens to the animal is more important. I believe. Parrots get very attached to their owners. Like I'm on this trip. My two favourites that are always with me: one's a large green wing macaw; the others an African Grey.

I drove them off and left them with a friend that can manage because I can't trust my husband to manage. He wasn't an animal person, but you marry me; it's a package deal. But he's got his own little parrot that he loves a lot now, which is wonderful, but he can't deal with the bigger birds. So I've made sure to take them to someone who knows how to deal with a parrot that maybe depressed or anything that might happen to him when I'm away.

So it's only like less than a month. I'll be seeing them again. We'll see how that goes. But yeah, you have to think of alternatives. Parrot owners must think of times if they need to go away. Where can they leave this animal? I think that's very important.

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[00:23:14] Sharon: Yes.

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And I love the way you described it. Think of them at three, four year old kid, that it's time for you to educate them.

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[00:23:43] Stephanie (2): And you have to play with them. It's also quite important to think of it as a relationship; it has to be mutually beneficial for the pet owner as well as for the pet, because it can't be just one side.

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[00:23:56] Stephanie (2): Yeah okay.

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[00:24:05] Stephanie (2): Yeah. But not just for parrots though. I think it is for all the pets in general.

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It's about everything. For divers, there are those instructors that say, "oh, you mustn't touch anything. Oh, you mustn't go near anything." I'm sorry. I can't. I have to go near something to get a macro shot. I try not to touch things, but sometimes things touch you.

One of the ladies I admire in the Marine conservation field that had the privilege of meeting is Valerie Taylor. She's lived quite an interesting life. She started out being a spear fishing champion. How does that make a person want to go into conservation? Many years ago, and she's not a young lady at all.

Life was very different. We treated the ocean and marine life like it was an unlimited credit card. You can use it as much as you want. It's unlimited. So we found out that's not true. And Valerie, she has filmed a lot of things in the past. Of course you can Google Valerie Taylor online and look for old footage on YouTube.

And you'd find that she used to handle lots of animals, but what it was is the animals came and made friends with her. So there is a difference. Like you see something spawning or there's something underwater doing something you don't go in and disrupt them.

But like for instance, one time I was diving and there was a small little wrasse that decided it was curious about me and wrasses get that way. So it followed me from a whole tank of air. Believe me, I tried to make it last. So it was just following me. It followed me everywhere. It came up to my mask and it would peck my mask. I moved forward and went back up. I back up, move forward. It's playing with me. And if it was a dog or a cat, I would have brought it home. It was the cutest little wrasse. In situations like that, we just feel we're blessed with this magic.

But it's not something that we can go and make happen. You can't go in and force it. You're not supposed to go and handle these animals. Because that could hurt them.

One time I was diving in Taiwan and south of Taiwan is beautiful. It's got a lot of wildlife and the water is crystal clear for meters and you can spot a turtle coming at you from like just a long way away. So when I went diving there that time I was at a little island called Xiao Liuqiu and I was experiencing one of the most shocking situations I've seen in my life.

So there was this little dive shop with a few gung-ho young guys, all tanned and 'Yay, I'm the dive master. I'm the dive guide. And I will train you, all that."

There were other people that went into their shop that wanted to learn to dive. These people did not know how to swim at all and they wanted to experience diving. And they said to them that this is possible. They said, "okay, sit and I will teach you how to use the breathing equipment. And this is called a BC. This is a mask and you breathe this way and that taught them how to use this.

All they ended up doing was they didn't give them fins. A dive guide would pick them up. So they'd get them underwater from the shore. I was watching all this in shock and they would pick them up by the tank and bring them to a coral outcrop where they would crawl around because they had no fins breaking the coral and pulling little shrimps out of cracks and crevices.

And the shrimp were losing their claws just so that they could take a picture underwater with a shrimp. " Haha, I'm underwater taking a picture of a shrimp." Now this is out of disrespect for wildlife. This is not the way it can or should be done. I understand these guys were probably trying to start a business and run a business and they need just to make some money, but there are rules and regulations in place for good reason.

So if you love the ocean and I assume anyone going into that business should. Then there are certain things you cannot do. If these people wanted to dive, tell them to go learn to swim first and do it the right way.

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[00:28:01] Sharon: Because one little dive like that, isn't going to do anything for anyone other than having a little selfie with a shrimp, what else would it do?

It's not going to inspire them to greater love of the oceans and we try to get people wet. We all do. We want to get everyone diving. Now for me, one of the main reasons is you see it's much easier to get people to help with conservation efforts on land-bound animals, like pangolin, like elephants. These are animals on land that are charismatic and easy to sell.

But when you try to talk about Marine conservation, for a lot of people, it's something that's out of their comfort zone. They don't want to deal with it. To them a fish is food. Seafood is see-food, spelled S E E. They don't have that love or connection with the ocean that would help them appreciate this as part of their world and it's their world. And they need to look after it, too. That if they throw a piece of garbage, it might end up there, it might be killing the sea turtle or that whale. So I think educating people to look after the ocean starts with yes, getting every child to swim and step-by-step. It is very important. In this day and age, how could you have a kid and the kid not know how to swim?

We're so privileged now, it's not that hard to go to a swimming pool and train your child.

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[00:29:48] Sharon: We can borrow submersible

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[00:29:56] Sharon: But we actually need to do that. You think about it, how much money we funnel into going to space, which I do believe is necessary too in the long run, but we haven't even finished discovering what's in our backyard.

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So there's so much that the underwater world can achieve really educate us. It's not just about biodiversities but everything in life.

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[00:30:46] Stephanie (2): So other than parrot, what other projects that you have.

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I do mean peaceful. This is little kids with their artwork saying, save the sharks, not tear gas and scary stuff. Okay. So used to do a lot of that. I go into Legco and I would voice out and try to get certain legislation passed, such as a better protection for an area where the turtles used to nest and lay eggs. A lot of rich people bring their yachts there over weekends. This needs to stop. We've gotten the legislation through already. Now, it's policing.

Education-wise with children. I do a lot of school talks. I do all age groups from little tiny ones to university kids. Now the tiny ones, I love sharing fun stories. Such as the one time I was diving in a whale shark, pooped on me. Kids love talking about poop and they all laugh. See you are laughing.

There's a child in her. When you talk to kids about poop, everyone laughs and it's wonderful. Because it's not always jokes because when I do talk to them, I work with a photo collage and sometimes it could be a photo of a mother elephant that was killed by poachers and the baby's sitting next to it crying.

So after talking to them about that very sad thing, I would then talk about poop to get them happier again. I feed them all these information, which I'm sure they remember because it's given to them in such a way it's emotional and they go home they talk about it. So they remember it hopefully. And they'll do something about it when they get bigger. Most importantly, I hope that I inspire them so that they become more interested. They can't learn everything from me. Lord, no. But if I could start them on the path of being interested, who knows, they might be a wonderful Marine biologist someday, or a scientist. Who knows?

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[00:32:57] Sharon: Children do change adults' minds. One time I remember I was at a banquet and this was quite a few years ago, but we were working on "Finished with Fins" in a big way. It was a wedding banquet where they did serve shark fin. I was sitting at the table. I knew that they were going to serve shark fin. So I told the people to give me like corn soup instead. When all the food arrived, there was a little girl there. She was six years old and she was given a bowl of shark fin which she refused to eat. She was a very quiet child. I didn't know this child well, but she just sat there. She wouldn't eat. The parents were getting a bit embarrassed and the parents are trying to get her to eat. Like you're embarrassing us. You're embarrassing the host. Why won't you eat your dinner? Blah, blah, blah. And push comes to shove. The child got too much pressure. Finally, she broke down and cried and she said, I made a pledge at school that I couldn't eat shark fin, and we're killing too many sharks and the ocean is dying.

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[00:33:49] Sharon: That was brilliant. So that's a real story. And what we do make a difference.

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[00:34:05] Sharon: Of course I do. I have a very big lizard that I bring to schools. He's a Tegu; he's about four feet long. My parrots go to schools with me. Yeah, they do. Also have a spider too. It's a big black Tarantula. He doesn't bite because he's used to handling.

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[00:34:22] Sharon: The things is there are a lot of children born with an innate love for animals in nature, but sometimes they may be living in an environment that doesn't allow them to keep pets, or they may have a parent or parents that are scared of animals don't want them or whatever. Some of these kids may initially start out being scared of things.

And then, you talk to them, small groups let them slowly come over and meet the animals, pet them, touch them, handle them. And they realize that there's nothing to be scared of. Of course you tell them that you can't go up to strange animals and do this. There are spiders that are poisonous.

Most of them will hurt you because they feel threatened by you grabbing them. So teach them how to handle them too. You don't just go and grab a spider. You let it come onto you. The lizard is just a cuddly fat lizard. So the kids just go and play with them, but it's it there's snakes that are venomous.

So you have to let them know you can't go up to any strange animal, even if it's someone else's pet, you have to ask the owner first, but it allows them to feel a connection with other living beings. And that might start something.

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[00:35:31] Sharon: Yeah.

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[00:35:55] Sharon: The human population.

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[00:35:59] Sharon: Yeah. I think we are out of control. Think about it. All of the issues that we're facing now is because there's too many of us, right? So if there's less of us, but we aim for a higher quality of living rather than more of us with due respect to nature. But even if we had demands on the oceans, even if we wanted to eat shark fin soup, if there's much less of us, nature can cope with it. The biggest issue now is there's too much of us and the demands keep increasing.

And the people that want to make money, life is tough. They're just doing whatever they can to make ends meet. So they make up their sales pitches. One of the biggest issues now of course is China's got money and the people selling things in China, they make up stories to sell it. So yeah, population.

ve all these problems. In the:

There were studying Antarctic toothfish and Patagonian toothfish. There was no such thing as Chilean sea bass. That's made up. The fisheries didn't have to think up new and sexier ways to go and harvest more of the ocean until things get to a point where they can't rebound.

All right. We need to learn to basically watch the guideline and take only what we can so that it's viable. Right now, it's not sustainable. Sustainability isn't just a pretty word that companies tag onto their companies like, "oh, we're doing sustainable stuff." It's a real thing. And when there's too many human beings on the planet, it's very hard to be sustainable.

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[00:38:08] Sharon: And it's been going on for a long time already. If you attend some conferences like fisheries conferences. It's quite depressing but we have to face the reality. There is such a demand. In the end, how are we going to do marine conservation, how are we going to control fisheries not collapsing in the future and all that? It's human demand. It's the way we eat. So it's not just shark fin.

It's so many things. Tuna, Cod, anything that can't be agricultured and even when things are aquacultured, do we stop and question where do we get the feed that we use for agriculture? All right. Is it bycatch? Because Lord knows by-catch is just wasted stuff. How are you feeding our pigs? Pigs are one of the largest consumers of Marine products.

Do the homework. It can be very depressing, I think people that go into conservation. Going with an open mind, make as much difference as you can because every little bit does count. And hopefully in the end it adds up to something that can keep life going on the way we wanted to.

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You have just been listening to "Surface Time : Confessions of a Diving Junkie".

My guest today was Sharon Kwok, a passionate conservationist. Through her foundation, AquaMeridian, she has been making the difference for the next generations through education and constructive dialogues. With more people joining her, collectively, more impact can happen and more climate emergency can come under control. Please feel free to visit aquameridian.org and reach out to give her your support.

Surface Time executively produced by Noetic Production and music by Dredstudio.

If you have enjoyed our Surface Time chat, please show us some love and subscribe. And if you would like to share your stories on Surface Time, we would love to hear from you. Please email us to faith@surfacetimechats.com.

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