Who Threatens Who? Preserving our Ocean's Top Predators

Jeanette Warren Start Date: Nov 21, 2016 - End Date: Feb 18, 2017
  • Educational/Research Trip
  • Intern Abroad
  • Study/Degree Abroad
  • Cairns, Queensland, Australia
  • Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

My Travel Story

by: Jeanette Warren Start Date: Nov 21, 2016 - End Date: Feb 18, 2017
  • Educational/Research Trip
  • Intern Abroad
  • Study/Degree Abroad
For eight years, I dreamt of Australia. Since first attending college in 2008, I fantasized about adventures on that far east country / continent, wondering what a semester abroad could bring my way. Finally, with determination and courage, I cross the threshold where far off dreams become realistic goals, and farfetched fantasies become close encounters. For the Spring 2017 semester, I plan to spend six months in Cairns, a popular tourist attraction along the far Northeast coast of Australia. Sandwiched between two World Heritage sites, Cairns rests along the northern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, hidden amongst the Daintree Rainforest which presses the city onto the picturesque shoreline. My studies incorporate a variety of interests, ranging from the biodiversity of Australian wildlife to the literature of local writers.

The big question on everyone’s mind: why is an English major choosing to study at a renowned research institution? James Cook University is famous for its scientific laboratories and impactful field studies. Surrounded by indigenous species and protected habitats, the college nourishes students with majors like biology, oceanography, and environmental science. In fact, the English classes were so limited that I barely had options to choose from! The method to my madness lies in the images you see plastered along this fundraising page: I yearn to utilize my linguistic prowess to advocate for the threatened species who call the tropical waters of Queensland home. Through the careful combination of academic studies and personal pursuits, I plan to save sharks with the power of creative writing.

Once a year, Discovery channel peaks our hunger for adventure with the infamous Shark Week. As we marvel at the mysterious creatures plastered on our televisions, shark culling and overfishing at the other end of the world present a real danger to these beautiful beasts. Government funded programs, or “shark culling” initiatives, seek to limit the number of sharks along popular tourist sites. Though renowned marine biologists argue that shark culling may not be effective, culling programs persist on utilizing unethical measures to manipulate the oceans: inhumane shark nets, bait hooks, and outright murder are among the types of shark culling (Smail, ABC News). North Queensland has been implementing measures to control the shark population for decades, and as the number of tourists rise, shark numbers decline. Beaches are surrounded with brutal shark nets that trap not only sharks, but sea turtles, dolphins, and rays. Because sharks can only breathe while in motion, they suffocate while entangled in the nets, all for the sake of healthy tourism. Not only do sharks face death at the hands of man near the shore, but in the depths of the ocean as well. Overfishing poses a real threat to these valuable fish who are often targeted for their fins, which can be used in soup. Sadly, many sharks are caught merely to be thrown back in the ocean, lifeless and limp after suffocation in fishing nets.

I plan to join forces with local conservation efforts and discover how I can leave an impact on this threatened community of fish. The ecosystem demands a delicate balance: if we persist on ignoring the dangerous declines in shark populations around Australia and other parts of the world, eventually other marine organisms will begin to suffer. Sharks control the ocean’s populations. Without them, it would be hard to predict what chaos would occur. My writing skills will be valuable among local newspapers or collegiate literary magazines. Some of my work has already been published at the collegiate level, in Connections Magazine of the College of Southern Maryland and Avatar literary magazine at St. Mary’s College.

I also plan to obtain my diver certification shortly after arriving in Australia. This will prepare me for field work with local shark research organizations. I hope to swim with sharks before my six-month study abroad tour is complete! After gaining real life experience connecting with these wonderful creatures, I plan to do one simple thing: write about it. If I can prove to people that sharks deserve to live, perhaps we can move towards a life where more humane measures are put into place to protect tourists, beaches, and marine wildlife

I am seeking your assistance in solidifying my academic and social goals. Generous support from federal and state funding, scholarships from St. Mary’s college, donations from local benefactors, and money from scary student loans create a multitude of resources for my study abroad experience. However, though I have labored hard to earn these various awards, I am thousands of dollars shy of satisfying the financial demands of studying abroad. Your donation will not only further my academic success, but will create a healthier society where marine wildlife and humans can coexist, safely and respectfully. Per the “Ultimate Guide to Australian Sharks,” over 200 shark species are listed on the IUCN threatened species list, yet only three species are protected internationally. Today, you can commit to protecting the ocean’s top predators… and contribute to a great college experience too!
  • Cairns, Queensland, Australia
  • Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


  • It's Official!

    It's Official!
    I took the plunge and purchased my ticket! I depart February 6th (because I had to see the Super Bowl) and will land in Cairns Australia 2 days later. Yes, 2 days later.

Adventure Registry

  • Professional camera to borrow

  • Funds for next semester

    St Marys College Financial Aid
    • Granted
  • Macquarie Dictionary