Katrien Vandevelde and Jan Wouters met in 1996 in the local diving club after discovering the vibrant and exciting world beneath the waves while snorkeling on holiday. Their adventurous souls soon lead them to Australia, where they dived with manta rays and whale sharks at Ningaloo reef. Here, their shared passion for this pristine underwater wilderness made them realise they were soulmates and so they closed each other and the ocean in their hearts for ever.
The seed of activism was sowed a few years later, when they learned that a mega resort with hotels and a marina was scheduled to be constructed at their underwater Eden. They felt compelled to take action and so they contacted NGO’s, dive centers and dive tourism companies all over the world, to raise awareness for this serious issue. Fortunately, the building plans were ultimately overturned and the area was designated as a World Heritage Site.
This was however just a prelude to their battle for marine preservation. As the years went by they became increasingly concerned by the deterioration of our oceans: the pollution and the litter, the collapse of coral reefs, the vast emptiness where schools of fish used to swim and the alarming absence of sharks in seas and oceans around the globe...
As most people have no idea of the profound devastation which is happening in the watery world below their dangling feet, Jan and Katrien now feel that it is imperative to be intensly dedicated to the cause and to make people aware that our lifeline is slowly dying. The hobby that turned into a passion, has now become a pure necessity, a moral obligation to do whatever they possibly can do, to assist in saving our cradle of life.
Read more about us below....
“Sharks have everything a scientist dreams of. They're beautiful God, how beautiful they are! They're like an impossibly perfect piece of machinery. They're as graceful as any bird. They're as mysterious as any animal on earth. No one knows for sure how long they live or what impulses except for hunger they respond to. There are more than two hundred and fifty species of shark, and everyone is different from every other one.”
Katrien was also:
- The administrator of the Global Shark Initiative FB page from 2008 to 2010.
- A Boardmember of the Sea First Foundation from November 2010 to August 2013.
- A Shark Savers (now part of WildAid) volunteer from June 2011 to May 2015
- The communications and press officer of Sea Shepherd Belgium from May 2014 to December 2016
- The social media administrator of Ocean Impact Alliance since October 2016
Allthough Jan may never have held official functions in conservation, he is the secret weapon, detrimental to the succes of many projects and campaigns. The "Shark Project" was his brainchild. Jan also does all the design work for campaigns from websites to posters, takes care of all the logistics and is the mental stabilizer and motivator when things get rough.
Jan has been fascinated by sharks since childhood and finally experienced his childhood dream when he was able to have free interaction with tiger sharks in the Bahamas.