Meet the Girl in Love with Sharks and See the Depths She’ll Go to Save Them
Passionate about protecting the ocean, professional mermaid Sara Ferguson dares to swim with sharks to show their softer side.
Meet Sara Ferguson, a girl on a mission to help the ocean by helping the apex of its food chain. After learning about how quickly sharks are being overfished to endangerment worldwide and the impact that this wipeout has on coral reefs and the ocean’s health, Sara became inspired to show sharks’ softer side to the world, promoting the idea of coexistence. “People have been conditioned to think of sharks as bloodthirsty murderers, when in truth, we kill over 11,000 per hour, a far cry from the ten humans sharks kill each year.” Sara explains.
“I spend time in the water with sharks every week and have seen how they really are, beyond the demonization of their mainstream portrayal. Sharks are just a big, graceful fish that have very little interest in humans.” Sara swims with sharks without wearing a mask, diving to depth as a mermaid, hoping to bring a more accurate representation of sharks’ character to the world. “A mermaid is the perfect spokesperson for the sea,” Sara explains.
“Without a mask, a mermaid is a relatable element in the depths that are impossible for a human to go, a beauty dancing with the underwater beast. I aim to share sharks’ accurate character and disposition with the world, replacing the mainstream fear and villainization we’ve been conditioned to believe. I swim with sharks in a mermaid tail as an ocean ambassador to show people coexistence is possible. If we don’t do something soon, they will be wiped out to extinction, and every level of the food chain will be affected. Entire schools of fish will be wiped out because a shark wasn’t there to eat the sick one before the sickness spread. Reefs will become overgrown with algae and die without their herbivore caretaker fish, and once vibrant ecosystems will become bleak and barren. We need sharks for healthy oceans, and we need healthy oceans to exist.”
When asked what most surprised her about working with sharks, Sara replied, “I was shocked at how in tune sharks were to subtle changes in my heart’s electro-magnetic energy. If my mood or outlook changes even slightly as I am holding my breath, the sharks react. I meet them with a confident loving heart, and in response, I’ve had sharks swim up to sit beside me, or try to climb in my lap seeking affection. I want the world to see sharks’ unthreatening behavior so we can diminish the fear and save these beautiful creatures before it is too late.”
Sharing videos and images of quality time with these misunderstood creatures on her Instagram and You Tube, Sara hopes to inspire others to help stop the fin trade, to love and protect the ocean and its inhabitants.
In January, a European petition was circulated to end shark fishing in some of the countries with highest death rates. “They needed one million votes,” Sara explained, “And when I posted my underwater spoken word video asking people to protect the sharks swimming around me, the petition had been up for months and only had 586,000 signatures. A friend in Europe picked up the video and shared it on her TikTok. In under three weeks, the signature count had surpassed what was needed, and ended at over 1,200,000 votes! I was so relieved and grateful as I know that’s a big step to creating awareness and change for shark hunting and fin trading.”
“I am just one girl, in love with the ocean,” Sara says, “but I can create ripples for change. We all can.”
Sara’s advice for swimming with sharks includes swimming only when the water is crystal clear, away from fishermen, and to hold eye contact. “If you are lucky enough to meet a shark, make eye contact. Don’t panic, keep an appearance of confidence like you are an equal. Then slowly and calmly swim away facing them, without waving your hands. Don’t turn your back or wave legs or arms around wildly like a struggling animal. Don’t flee or behave like prey. Most sharks retreat and leave when they see humans. We are truly not on a shark’s menu at all – I’ve dove with open cuts and have seen they have shown zero interest in my blood because it is not seal or fish blood.
Lastly, only swim or play in the ocean when the water is clear and they can see what kind of creature you are. When it’s brown, turn around.”
Sara has written two kids’ books about sharks. A PADI Mermaid Instructor, she runs The Mindful Mermaid Swim Academy in Maui, teaching kids and adults alike how to swim in mermaid tails through mermaid certification courses with emphasis on a positive relationship with water and ocean conservation.
For Sara’s shark content showing their more realistic softer side, visit: The Mindful Mermaid on Instagram