Kathy Xu

The Dorsal Effect

Our Story

The Dorsal Effect is an eco-enterprise that provides alternative livelihood to shark fishermen through snorkelling boat trips and marine conservation science school trips to Lombok. The dorsal fins are one of the fins commonly taken by shark fishermen for export for soup, but the word “dorsal” also means back, and since Kathy wanted to end shark fishing on the supply side of the chain by providing the shark fishermen with ecotourism as an alternative source of livelihood, it came to mean the work on the back end of the shark fishing and finning trade as well, hence, The Dorsal Effect, ie, the back end effect of positive change for shark.

Why We Started

Kathy is the founder of The Dorsal Effect. Having been a school teacher for 7 years and constantly advocating for her students to do good throughout her teaching career, Kathy decided to walk the talk and stepped out of the teaching profession to start The Dorsal Effect in 2013.

Triggered by an intense experience while swimming alongside a whale shark in Exmouth, Australia, back in 2011, Kathy decided she wanted to do something so that future generations could still see sharks alive rather than extinct and confined to just picture books. After learning about the shark fishing and finning situation and the demand for shark fin soup, Kathy started volunteering on the education arm of Shark Savers Singapore (and still is!) It wasn’t long before she decided that more should be done on the supply side other than the demand side for shark fin soup as well, and soon found herself in Lombok talking to shark fishermen.

The Dream

To inspire a love for sharks and the oceans! 🙂

The Dorsal Effect


We run workshops and film screenings, tackling shark depletion, exploitation of shark fishermen, seafood sustainability, marine pollution and problems. They continue to spearhead conservation of shark through conversion of shark fishermen, hiring them to take tourists out for snorkeling boat trips instead that set off from the very fish market that dead sharks are hauled in daily.

Social Issue

Environmental Conservation


Arts Therapy