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Jim Abernethy: Conservationist & “Shark Whisperer”

You may have seen his footage on the popular Discovery Channel event “Shark Week” or somewhere on National Geographic, but Jim is much more than a marine life cinematographer. Considered one of the top shark behaviorists in the world, Jim Abernethy is often times called the “Shark Whisperer” for his pioneering of the cageless shark dive and the remarkable amount of in-water time he has accumulated with these large predatory animals. Jim’s primary focus on shark conservation arises from his decades-long interaction with these beautiful, and highly endangered, creatures. Abernethy is an award winning underwater photographer, filmmaker, author, business owner, public speaker and philanthropist who works relentlessly to change the perception of human interaction with sharks. Author, publisher, and photographer of the book “Sharks Up Close”, Jim’s work has been used as an educational tool for lobbyists, congress and the US Senate on the topic of shark finning and over fishing. Jim has been featured on many of the world’s top nature filmmakers and magazines such as IMAX, National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Animal Planet, and the Discovery Channels popular event “Shark Week”. In fact, one of the films produced by Abernethy “This is Your Ocean: Sharks” was a winner of the 2012 New Port Beach film festival and 2011 Award Winner for Special Achievement in Environmental Filmmaking.

Abernethy also works with non-profit organizations and his efforts have resulted in the creation of WildlifeVOICE and Operation Blue Pride. Through each of these organizations, Jim works with veterans, children and those who are disabled by helping them experience and learn about the beauty of our oceans. WildlifeVOICE seeks to engage and educate youth, as well as physically challenged people, (Project Seahorse & Rising Tide) by introducing them to our oceans and inspiring them to become “ocean ambassadors.” The mission of Operation Blue Pride is to save both veterans and our ocean’s creatures through in-water activities, wildlife encounters, education, outreach and direct action. On top of his philanthropic efforts, Jim has been an instrumental advocate in getting the Blue Heron Bridge recognized as a marine sanctuary. His efforts have resulted in a massive amount of Diving and Snorkeling Tourism in the town of Riviera Beach. In 2008, Abernethy, in collaboration with Shawn Heinrichs, discovered the world’s largest aggregation of whale sharks in Isla Mujeres, Mexico . This helped an impoverished fishing village become a bustling area sustained by ecotourism.

Jim is an inspirational figure for shark & ocean conservation around the world and has worked diligently to ensure that these valuable natural resources remain in tact for future generations to come. Thank you Jim Abernethy for your astounding efforts in Palm Beach County and around the world!

Check out his video about the Amazing Creatures Under the Blue Heron Bridge above…


lake worth lagoon

Lake Worth Lagoon

The Lake Worth Lagoon is teaming with life. There is an entire community that most people do not realize is swimming just under the busy waterways we drive over every day. I have had a chance to swim in this thriving ecosystem and find it to be enchanting. As I learn the role each type of fish plays in the reef structures found at Phil Foster Park and Peanut Island I begin to personify their jobs. This may seem senseless to some but they all have a niche in this world as do we.

Take for instance the filefish. It is a detritivore or in other words it eats dead coral and barnacles which provides room for new life to grow. There is also the sea star, crustaceans, and worms that help to clean up the reefs. These guys can be thought of as the sanitation workers. Then there is the coral which provides the protection to the fish. It is the home builder of a reef. Their structure creates terrain that can only be traversed by the smaller species.

There are so many roles that are portrayed by the fish of a reef. But the Lake Worth Lagoon community as a whole is a magnificent sight to me. I really enjoy leading snorkeling tours to show others how this unique symbiotic relationship has developed into a community teaming with life. If you haven’t snorkeled the Lake Worth Lagoon yet, come down to Phil Foster and take a swim along the snorkel trail. You will not regret it.