Ayumi Kuramae was one of the organizers of Dutch Caribbean Shark Week on Saba. As an employee for the Saba Conservation Foundation, she organised various successful events, including a color run, shark cocktail party, and a night time dive in the Saba Marine Park.
First things first, tell us something about yourself.
During my time on Saba and Sint Eustatius, I was busy setting up a project called AROSSTA, which involved the construction of artificial reefs in the waters around both islands. With these reefs, we want to study how different substrates stimulate coral growth and fish aggregation. My biggest hobby is to explore and protect nature, and fortunately for me that involves a lot of diving!
Ever since a young age I have a passion for the oceans. When I was 12 years old I did my first dive off the Dominican Republic and a year later I dived on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. At that moment, I decided to devote my life to explore and protect the oceans. My boyfriend, Guido Leurs, has been interested in sharks since a young age. He inspired me about sharks and that is why my interest in sharks became even stronger. Together we try to create awareness and do our part to save the marine environment wherever we go. We want to create awareness about the oceans with our project called Oceaware.
How were you involved with the Dutch Caribbean Shark Week?
I organized a variety of activities on Saba together with the Saba Conservation Foundation. This was a nice opportunity for people of all ages on the island to learn more about the shark populations and their protection around Saba. This year we used interactive activities like a trivia night to have young and old people together and teach them the ins and outs of sharks. In addition, we gave lectures on the local school to children of all ages.
Why did you get involved with Dutch Caribbean Shark Week?
I got involved because it is still shocking to me how many sharks are killed each year for consumption. By organizing the Shark Week on Saba, we could give more people an insight on the problems that sharks face on a global scale.
What is the most memorable moment you had with a shark or ray?
My best moment with a shark was when I got to swim along with the largest fish of all, the whale sharks in Mexico. The idea that these animals have been around even before the age of the Dinosaurs and have survived so long is truly fascinating and impressive.
Which shark or ray species tops your bucket-list at this moment?
Guido told me a lot about the white shark and hammerheads, but in addition to those, the oceanic whitetip shark and manta ray are really high on my list!