Shark comic book

A page from the comic book “Beach Days: Share the Waves,” illustrated by Audrey Hopkins.

Shark week has arrived, and Cal State Long Beach’s SharkLab launched a new comic book focused on how people interact with marine life, especially sharks.

The new comic book, “Beach Days: Share the Waves,” is targeted to youth who enjoy the beach. The story follows a group who interact with sharks and the information they have learned about sharks to keep themselves safe. The SharkLab aims to demystify sharks and help people be less afraid of them.

“Our audience is mostly focused on junior lifeguards and beach kids,” said Chris Lowe, director of the SharkLab at CSULB. “It’s also for the kids who might be a little afraid of the water. We want them to know it’s not so scary.”

The SharkLab, having started in 1966, studies behavior of sharks and marine life.

Students within the SharkLab will distribute the comics to lifeguard camps and to youth at beaches all over Southern California, from San Diego to Santa Barbara, Lowe said.

The full-color comic book also features QR codes — machine-readable codes used to store URLs or other information that are read using a smartphone camera — that link to games and more information about marine life.

“The goal is to have different types of education information geared toward different water users,” Lowe said. “It’s something for the whole family.”

Supply is limited, though. They could only afford to print 500 copies, Lowe said, and he anticipates they will be gone in a week.

But the public can hope to snag a copy during the SharkLab’s annual open house — Shark Day @ The Beach — this Saturday, July 20.

Attendees will experience the shark lab facilities, take a tour of the mammal museum featuring birds and reptiles, and participate in science experiments.

The SharkLab has become a gem for the Cal State community. Lowe stresses the importance to learn about one of the world’s oldest sea creatures — sharks — and replace fear with fascination.

“Shark populations have been hurt by overfishing in the past and now they’re growing because of protections, but not everybody jumps in to their ears like me,” Lowe said. “People are scared of sharks, and our work hopefully will help them realize they don’t need to be as afraid as they are.”

The SharkLab open house is from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the College of Natural Sciences on the Cal State campus.

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