Maria Korcsmaros and David McGuire were guest speakers at the January 20, 2022, meeting of the La Palma-Cerritos Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) at the Cerritos Library.
Using a Power Point Presentation, Maria shared her story of being attacked by 8 to 10 ft. great white shark on May 29, 2016, while she was training for a half- ironman triathlon competition at Big Corona Beach in Corona Del Mar. Lifeguards were nearby and saved her by pulling her out of the water and starting to administer first aid. Maria survived the shark attack, recuperated from her injuries, and wanted to learn more about sharks. In December of 2016, she met David McGuire, Founder and Director of Shark Stewards, an Ocean Health and Shark Conservation non-profit from the San Francisco area. David was working to save sharks from the shark finning trade before they became extinct by working to create laws to ban excess fishing and shark finning. Maria and her son Lucas went to Las Vegas to help David lobby and gather signatures against finning in the shark trade.
Over the past five years, Maria learned that the ocean is at risk with plastics polluting and killing marine life and destroying the reef. She learned that sharks are critical for maintaining the health of ocean ecosystem, and one third of sharks are threatened with extinction. When she learned that millions of sharks were being killed just for their fins, with the rest of their bodies discarded in the ocean, she joined Shark Stewards. She became an advocate to save sharks, reefs, and other marine life and habitat. She is now Southern California’s Shark Stewards’ Chair and is Race Director for Run4Sharks& Ocean Health Fair that supports Shark Stewards financially.
David McGuire has a master’s degree in Environmental Health from UC Berkely and is adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco teaching Marine Protection Policy and Marine Ecology. He is also a Research Associate of the Department of Aquatic Biology at the California Academy of Sciences studying shark population, shark movement and its impact on fisheries.
David said that we need to protect sharks and the ocean because billions of people rely on the ocean to live. He said that sharks help to regulate blue carbon in the ocean, regulates prey populations, and helps to maintain oxygen supply. Blue carbon is the carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems such as mangroves, tidal marshes, and seagrass meadows. More carbon is found in these ecosystems than in terrestrial forests. He said that sharks and seagrass are mitigating weapons against climate change.
David wrote the book, SHARKS FOR KIDS, A JUNIOR SCIENTIST’S GUIDE to Great Whites, Hammerheads, and Other Sharks in the Sea, to educate young people about sharks. He also has written and produced documentaries about sharks and marine habitat. The mission of Shark Stewards is to restore ocean health by saving sharks and protecting critical marine habitat. For more information about Shark Stewards, books, t-shirts, and other items, contact David at www.sharkstewards.org.
Maria Korcsmaros is available as a speaker to share her story about being a shark attack survivor and her advocacy to protect sharks and other marine life and habitat. She will come to local schools for a speaker fee of $60.00 or donations to the non-profit Shark Stewards. Donations will support educational activities and advocacy efforts to protect sharks and other marine life. For more information about participating at future runs to raise funds for shark protection, contact Maria at www.run4sharks.org.