CSULB SharkLab creates comic book to educate children on sharks, marine life and beach safety
July 17, 2019
With Discovery Channel’s Shark Week and SharkFest right around the corner, the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) SharkLab is working to inform the public about one of the world’s oldest creatures of the sea: the shark.
After a year-long process, the SharkLab is ready to distribute a wave of uniquely designed marine-life comic books to local kids, a CSULB press release announced.
“The key to a lot of our programs is education and letting people know that a lot more sharks are around; and that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” SharkLab Director Dr. Chris Lowe said. “We have to remind people that we are guests in their homes.”
The comic books aim to teach children how to identify marine animals they may encounter at the beach and how to safely share the ocean with them.
The comic book is printed in color, flooded with QR reader-codes links to websites that enrich the comic book experience and packed with games that test the reader’s knowledge of marine life, the press release stated.
“A comic book is good for kids,” Lowe said. “A huge number of kids are going into the water this summer, and this is an opportunity to educate them. A comic book is more fun to read, and we hide our lessons within the comic. We hide the vegetables in the dessert.”
Lowe told the Signal Tribune during a phone interview Wednesday that he partnered with a colleague at the school’s art department to develop the characters and the story. He worked with cartoonist Audrey Hopkins to draw the characters in the comic. Lowe said that while the human characters may look cartoonish, the animals had to look lifelike.
“Animals have to look realistic enough so people can identify them if kids saw them,” he said.
The comic books will be distributed to life guards and children at local beaches. So far, 5,000 have been published, but Lowe said they will all be gone by next week.
The comic was produced with grant funds from the state’s Shark-Beach Safety Research and Education program. Lowe said the grant covered the first batch of comics, but he is urging the public to donate via the SharkLab website to develop more issues.
Lowe told the Signal Tribune that a planned sequel next summer will focus on marine pollution.
The public can also get their hands on one Saturday, July 20 at the campus’ College of Natural Sciences and Math building from 1pm to 5pm while supplies last.
The SharkLab will host its annual open house Shark Day at the Beach event where the public will get a firsthand experience of what it is like inside a shark lab, participate in science experiments and take a hands-on tour of the mammal museum filled with birds, reptiles and bugs, the press release read.
The Shark Day at the Beach event is free to the public.