Like many young people, 11 year old Sean Lesniak is fascinated with sharks. However, Sean is not just interested in learning about them and watching them, but about helping them to survive.
Sean’s passion for sharks started very early in life. When Sean was just 3 years old, while watching Shark Week, he learned that many sharks are killed (or “finned”) just to use their fins for soup! It is estimated that more than 100 million sharks are killed around the world each year from shark finning. He could not believe this was happening.
As Sean’s interest and passion for sharks grew, he wanted to take action to protect sharks. And he decided to start at home when he learned that his state of Massachusetts did not have a law that prevented shark finning!
Sean wrote a letter to his state representative, David Nangle, asking him to introduce a law that would ban shark finning in their state. In his letter, Sean included a hand drawn shark with its fin removed.
After a few tries, he was able to speak to with Representative Nangle who agreed to propose the bill and in June, 2014 it became a law! Massachusetts is now one of 10 states in America that ban shark finning.
Since then, Sean has focused his efforts on helping to “tag” sharks, working with Shark Biologist, Dr. Greg Skomal. He is also now interested in helping to protect Sea Turtles in his home state. And guess what Sean wants to be when grows up? A Shark Biologist of course!
Sean’s actions show how young people can make a big difference in the world. His advice to other youth is “if you feel strong about something and if you believe you can do it, you should try your best to make it happen.”
Here is a SharkWeek video that tells Sean’s inspiring story:
And, if you want to see more, make sure to check out Sean on the new show, Shark Trek, debuting at 8PM on Sunday July 5th.
- Learn more about the brutal practice of Shark Finning around the world
- Learn some fun facts about sharks
- Check out the SharkWeek website to learn more about sharks and the many “finbassadors” who help defend them
Topics for Discussion:
- What do you think about the idea of protecting sharks?
- What inspired Sean to take action to help sharks?
- What are a few words you would use to describe Sean?
- What is one thing you would like to change in the world?
- Interested in helping sharks? Visit the SharkTrust.org website to learn about many ways that you can protect sharks
- Are sharks not your thing? How about polar bears? Get some great ideas at the Polar Bears International website about changes you can make every day to benefit the environment and polar bears!
- Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for elementary school students.
- Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for middle school students.