Sharks

This is a small Nurse Shark resting on some sand. Nurse Shark feed at night and rest during the day, and have a set of teeth which are used for grinding because they typically feed off the bottom looking for shellfish and crustaceans. They are not aggressive towards divers and are in fact rather curious. Some of them came very close to me.

Last week I said that I would give an update on the sorry state of the shark population, so here are some stats.

Officially 38 million sharks are fished from the ocean, mostly for their fins (the finless shark is dumped back in the water to drown) and some as by-catch (I don’t have any numbers on the ratios.) The real number is most likely between 70 and 100 million because most of the shark fishing is not reported.

In the past 20 years the global shark population has been reduced by 50%, at this rate sharks will be gone by 2030.

Some shark populations have crashed completely, 95% of the Mako sharks off the east coast of the USA are gone.

Each year about 10 people are killed by sharks.

What is really obvious is that sharks are not cuddly or cute, like polar bears or whales for example, which is a real problem for any conservation campaign, and I am still at a loss as to how this can be remedied. A lot of people think sharks are dangerous and in fact the statistics show quite the opposite. As one of the top predators in the oceans, sharks have a vital place in the ecosystem, take them away and there will be major disruptions to that ecosystem. We are already seeing that with an increase in the number of stingrays off the east coast of the US.

I hope that we are more enlightened now than we were when we hunted whales close to extinction, but I am not sure given the lack of response I have seen on this issue.

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