Shark lover aims for change

Sophi Bromenshenkel kisses a dolphin during a family trip to Atlantis in the Bahamas in 2010. Bromenshenkel was honored for her fundraising efforts that she donated to a shark conservation program. Courtesy R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation.)

Making bracelets, selling hot chocolate and setting up lemonade stands are the usual ways an 8-year-old can make a few dollars. But unlike most 8-year-olds, Sophi Bromenshenkel has been using her money to help shark-conservation efforts for the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS).

“My favorite thing about the ocean is sharks,” wrote Sophi in her first entry of her online blog, Saving Sharks with Sophi. “I love them!  I like to read about them, watch shows about them, collect facts about them and draw them.  My favorite shark is the hammerhead.”

Sophi recently won the Oceana’s 2011 Junior Ocean Hero Award and was on the cover of the latest issue of the Oceana Magazine, a publication of Oceana, an organization solely responsible for protecting the world’s oceans.

She was honored for raising $3,500 to purchase satellite tags. These tags will be used to track shark populations being studied by the University of Miami’s R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program (RJD).

According to the Star Tribune, Bromenshenkel’s fascination with sharks began at the age of four when she took a trip to Florida along with her family – her uncle, a boat captain, introduced her to the ocean and to sharks.

After discovering a pregnant bull shark that washed up on shore by her uncle’s home, Sophi was motivated to help sharks.

She worked to educate community groups in her hometown of Richfield, Minn., about the threats that sharks face and how they can contribute to shark conservation. She also convinced her local church to host “Shark Month,” which helped raise funds for her cause.

“I talked to a kindergarten class about sharks,” Sophi wrote on her blog. “I talked about all of the ways that I am helping sharks and the ocean. Ms. Bell helped me explain some of the harder words for them, like research and satellite tags. The kids didn’t know that much about sharks, so I taught them a lot.”

For every $2,000 raised, one shark will be tagged and named after a person. Sophi already has one shark named after her.

“Sophi is a great example of how one small person can make a huge difference,” said Neil Hammerschlag, an associate research professor at RSMAS, in a press release.

Sophi will be in Miami on Thursday for the South Florida premiere of the movie, “This is Your Ocean: Sharks.”


If you go

What: “This is Your Ocean: Sharks”

When: Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

Where: Cosford Cinema

Cost: $10 for students and $20 for general admission

A $2,000 donation can be made to purchase a shark satellite tag and attend a VIP dinner following the screening. Reservations are encouraged due to the limited seating. RSVP to Carla Lovinsky at 305-421-4061 or