Thomas Ponce

Hails from: Casselberry, Florida
Currently lives in: Casselberry, Florida
Favorite Place: Home
Favorite Things to Do: I enjoy researching and following through on different ways to help protect animal rights. I also enjoy playing video games and painting custom action figures.
Favorite Shark:  Great White and the Bonnet-head

What shark are you most like and why? 
I think I am most like the Great White because the Great White is misunderstood just like me. People look at the Great White and judge it by the way it looks and how it’s portrayed in movies they don’t take the time to learn what the shark is really about and how important it is to everyone. I am often misunderstood as well because of my beliefs and because I am a little over weight. Being a vegetarian and an animal advocate don’t make me the most popular person in school but if people would take the time to get to know why I do what I do maybe they would understand me more and have respect for my work and me as a person. I feel it’s the same way for sharks.

How did sharks draw you into their watery world?
I have always been fascinated by sharks I think they are amazing beings and always believed there was more to them than what I had seen on tv. I have been reading about sharks since I was very young. I was truly drawn in even further when I got up close and personal with the shark I saved on my birthday. I looked into that sharks eyes and knew I had to save it and had to do something with my life to work towards saving sharks.

If I could tell people one thing about sharks it would be how important sharks are to our ecosystem and how we all need to protect them in order to keep our oceanic ecosystem alive and thriving.

Inspire Us!
I am currently the coordinator for Fin Free Florida and I hope to be doing great things with my chapter really soon. I am waiting for approval on my animal rights group in school where we will be focusing on the Fin Free and Shark Angel missions. I am part of a lobbying group called Lobby for Animals and will be making a presentation to the committee next week as well as speaking to representatives from Congress in July about banning the sale, distribution and production of shark fin products as well as trying to put together a proposal to make sure sharks that are fished are kept intact when they are brought to port. I am still learning about the best ways to approach these problems but I know that by the time I get to Washington in July I will be very prepared and I will do my best to represent sharks and their rights in the best way possible. We will also be working on the Animal Enterprise Terrorist Act .

Short Bio:
I am 11 years old and I live in Casselberry Florida. I’ve been a vegetarian and an animal advocate since I was about 4 years old. I’ve worked on fundraising events both on my own and with PETA. I did a dog wash and raised $1000 for a local animal shelter and am in my second year of the PETA Pack walk for animals. I received the young achiever award last year for raising over $100 for the walk and was named Regional Coordinator this year for the Orlando area for the walk, so far I’ve raised $800. I also recently received the PETA compassionate kids award and received a letter from the city of Casselberry’s Commissioners office for my efforts in fighting for animal rights. I am also in the process of organizing an animal rights group at my school and plan on making Fin Free a major part of its campaigning efforts. I have written many essays on animal rights issues and have had them win at county level in my school programs. I figure the more people read what I write the better, so every chance I get to have a lot of people read about the shark’s plight I feel like I’m helping.  I am constantly trying to educate people on what the sharks are being put through (as well as all animals). I just recently did a power point presentation on sharks and had a lot of people in my school watch it and then ask a lot of questions, it was great exposure.

I learned about Fin Free when I attended the National Animal Rights Conference in Washington DC. I met Tracy and Kevin and told them my story of how I saved a shark on Venice beach. I was there for my birthday and I saw a fisherman pull up a Bonnet-Head shark on his line he was going to kill it and eat it. I knew I couldn’t let that happen so I pleaded with him to set it free. I told him how the shark was a living being with feelings and a family and it deserved to live. I told him how sharks were becoming endangered and how he should just set it free. After about 20 minutes of trying to convince him he finally conceded and told me to set him free. It was an amazing feeling to have been able to help and I knew I wanted to do more. I had watched Sharkwater and learned a lot about what the sharks were being put through and decided that there was no way I could just let that shark die. When I met Tracy and Kevin I told them how I was hoping there’d be someone at the convention representing sharks and was so happy they were there. I told them how much I wanted to organize a group in Florida and would love for it to be with Fin Free, and here we are now.