Almost everyone loves a catchy song. Especially Costa Ricans. That's good news for Hammerhead sharks.
Working with Costa Rican music band Dogandul, Andy Bystrom, of SOS Grantee PRETOMA, is seeing changes in attitudes and hopefully behaviours about eating shark meat in local restaurants. For PRETOMA, a popular singalong represented a smart solution to the eternal conundrum: how to engage the general public in conservation issues. Yo No Como Tiburon (I don't eat shark meat) - rallies Costa Ricans to stand for sharks in a fun passionate way.
PRETOMA's work focuses on protecting Hammerhead sharks in Costa Rican waters through a number of activities including advocacy and policy work. Reaching the general public with the conservation message would help generate some debate and publicity for an iconic species and an urgent issue.
Ordering shark, often referred to as "bolillio", "cazon" or "bolillon" on local restaurant menus, is relatively commonplace according to Andy. Changing people's consumption behaviours is never easy, however - governments and companies often spend years and millions of dollars to encourage us to eat more healthily or choose this brand over that.
Fortunately, a catchy fun song championed by a popular band can transcend the need for a mega-budget campaign. Clever marketing you might say: Dogandul have also made the song free to download via their website.
What is more, for Dogandul, the song has become one of their 'titulares' during live shows - part of the set list - and they play a couple of shows a month. Andy advises the band has also done multiple radio interviews talking about the song, the campaign to not eat shark, and the other various environmental projects in which they are participating. "It’s safe to say that the song has reached tens of thousands of listeners via the concerts, their Facebook page and the interviews."
Asked how many people have stopped eating shark meat because of the song, Andy concedes: "that’s tough to quantify but without a doubt it has educated a portion of the public that these confusing names 'bolillo, cazon, bolillon' are really shark. Furthermore, supermarkets must now say that “bolillo, cazon or bolillon” is shark; they can no longer hide behind the misleading names". To clarify, the song didn’t accomplish this alone, but it did contribute to the broader PRETOMA campaign that has achieved this victory.
So, it's Friday, you may not be in the tropics enjoying the sounds of the ocean, but you can catch a bit of that latin vibe playing Dogandul's "Yo No Como Tiburon". Dance along and share it with your friends any way you can!
This is just one of many community oriented projects supported by IUCN’s SOS initiative. With your continued support we can continue to support frontline conservation tackling a number of high-priority issues. Please donate now and help SOS save more species.