VIDEO: January Jones Swims With Monster Whale Shark in PSA

Tim Calver

The “Mad Men” actress is raising awareness for the world’s most misunderstood predators.

The sharks in Hollywood are much more dangerous than the ones in the ocean — that’s the message from Mad Men and X Men: First Class star January Jones, who is appearing in a just-released public service announcement calling for the protection of sharks worldwide.

“Shark attacks and bites are, thankfully, very, very rare,” says Jones. “And sharks play a critical role in our oceans as top predators. Without them, things go out of balance. And, now tens of millions of sharks are caught, mostly for their fins, every year. So it’s silly to be scared of them. We should be scared for them.”

In the spot — filmed for nonprofit conservation group Oceana — Jones herself swims with a shark, an enormous whale shark, which is actually a plankton-eating fish that can grow up to 65’ feet long. She and the beast met up in Belize’s Gladden Spit Marine Reserve. “I wasn’t intimidated so much as in complete and utter awe. Seeing an animal of that size in the wild was incredible,” adds Jones, who has been involved with Oceana since 2009. That year, she travelled to Capital Hill to meet with Congress and push for the passage of the Shark Conservation Act. Congress passed the bill in December 2010; it prohibits shark finning in U.S. waters, a practice in which a live shark’s fins are hacked off and it slowly dies as it sinks in the ocean.

It’s Jones’ second year in a row starring in a spot for Oceana, which counts several other entertainment industry names as supporters. Ted Danson is a founding board member and high-powered Industry Entertainment manager Keith Addis serves as board chairman. Danson is the author of the recently published Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do To Save Them(co-written with Michael D'Orso, Rodale, $32.50), the actor’s first book, which takes a comprehensive look at the perils facing the world’s oceans. Proceeds of sales benefit Oceana.

Shark finning is also in the news in California, where a proposed law introduced in the California legislature would ban the sale and possession of shark fins, the key ingredient in the popular Asian dish, shark fin soup. Chinese basketball star and Houston Rockets center Yao Ming —  who played for the Shanghai Sharks as a teenager — has lent his name to fighting the use of shark fins. The athlete recently filmed his own PSA for environmental organization Wild Aid calling for an end to eating shark fins. Up to 73 million sharks are kill each year for their fins and some species of sharks 

January Jones Swims with Whale Sharks from Oceana on Vimeo.