Amber Love 26-JULY-2012 If there’s such a thing as a shark nerd, I’m one of them. Since I was quite young, I’ve been interested in sharks all because of a book I bought at a garage sale that I have tried to replace but don’t remember the publisher. I’m  not sure why apex predators like sharks and big wild cats are more fascinating to me than something cute and benign like a clown fish, but they are. I’m a fan of DISCOVERY CHANNEL’S SHARK WEEK though I have noticed a change in their programming from educational shark footage to sensationalized tabloidesque features which seem required to get noticed on cable television. Never fear – let’s be sensational! There are some unusual ways people can help save the shark populations that are so close to being wiped out. Drinking + Video Gaming!

August 12, 2012 is the beginning of the 25th anniversary of SHARK WEEK! Hard to believe I’ve been glued to DISCOVERY for this long. Even when I didn’t get the channel, I would catch it at my grandmother’s house. When we got our first VCR (okay, kids, Google it), I had made three tapes of one year’s SHARK WEEK that I would play over and over. As a comic fan, I have to say, sharks aren’t exactly interesting in mainstream comics. King Shark? Come on. The only issue I ever read which included that character made me want to burn the comic. It was awful. The one shark themed comic character I do like is actually the villain from BATMAN, part of the predatory animal trio of bad guys; so yes, the shark is one of the evildoers but the trio are well-formed interesting villains unlike King Shark.

The first story I noticed this week was an announcement for MAKO VODKA, one of the partners in this year’s SHARK WEEK. This Nashville Scene article gives the history of the partnership with some interesting shark facts. It finishes off with some cocktail recipes for mixing Mako Vodka which you can also find on the distillery’s website. Mako describes their vodka as fives times distilled using pure fresh spring water, midwestern corn, and two types of barley. Sadly, there are no New Jersey retailers on their list of available sources. This brand won a gold medal at the Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago in 2011.

“A pure clean taste. A slightly creamy nose with a velvety mouthfeel. This satiny smoothness yields to a clean refreshing finish.” ~makovodka.com

Mako Vodka doesn’t stop there. Protecting the Earth and the resources we have at our disposal for enjoying life seems like a real priority for them. Mako has actively been participating in conservancy efforts:

Mako® Vodka is dedicated to the protection and preservation of our waters and all their wonders, so they can be enjoyed for many years to come. Wherever you find Mako ® Vodka, you will know we are helping conserve and restore the marine resources of that area — from the reefs of Florida, the waters of the eastern seaboard, to the wetlands of the Midwest. Mako ® Vodka is a proud supporter of non-profit organizations throughout the U.S. whose intentions are to protect and preserve their regional waters so that they can be enjoyed for many years to come.

Next up is great news for mobile gamers. This would apply to folks that are addicted to things like Angry Birds. GameLoft and WildAid are also partnering with DISCOVERY for this year’s tribute to sharks. The gaming app, SHARK DASH is a “cartoony” and fun approach into the world of “Sharkee” and rubber ducks.

“SHARK DASH is a highly addictive game with a fun and unique cartoon-style design starring lovable toy sharks and a series of wacky and mischievous rubber ducks. Users will be able to contribute to shark conservation through new exclusive content made available in the game, notably a new “Fintastic” skin for Sharkee. Google Play users, specifically, will also be given the option to purchase this skin for $0.99, $4.99, or $24.99 (depending on how much they would like to donate).” ~marketwatch.com

SHARK DASH is currently available in the Android and Apple stores for your mobile devices.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHp8QVxWFdQ

If that isn’t enough to get you ready for shark conservation, check out this next spotlight. A friend of mine, JEN RICHARDS is the real Mera or Namora or what-have-you comic sea crusader reference. She educates people at the amazing Georgia Aquarium which I have not seen yet. Jen is also an incredible painter. Usually the art I discuss is about portraiture and figures. It’s not all that catches my eye. As I said, I’ve been reading through shark books since I was a child mainly ogling the photography and art.

Please take the time to drool over Jen’s fine art. She has representations of all kinds of marine critters. Among my favorites are the massive whale sharks which are actually timid sharks not whales; they just happen to be the size of a school bus. Jen sells her incredible work in an etsy shop, so please support her! Plus following her on Twitter will often alert you to cool things she’s up to at the aquarium and at comic conventions.

Lastly, in 2009, National Geographic named GREENFORCE one of the Top Ten Volunteer Vacations for their program in shark conservation. For £1,500 (British), you can spend three weeks training to dive, research, survey and monitor marinelife.  You would learn mapping, species identification and much more in the Caribbean.