There’s no better time to talk all things sharks than Shark Week. Let’s take a break from the thrilling documentaries and shark movies to get serious about sharks and why they need our help.
465 species of shark fall into the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Those 465 species then fall into one of five categories: Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered or Data Deficient (meaning there isn’t enough research to place a species in a category.) 45% of those 465 species fall into that data deficient category, hinting at a serious need for further research.
Why are so many shark species threatened?
- Shark finning for shark fin soup
- Commercial and sports fisheries for jaws, fins and game records
- Protective beach meshing
- Degradation of habitats
- Bycatch by poor commercial fishing practices
Why we need to get involved
Sharks are a key part of our ecosystems and food chains. If sharks were to become extinct, other smaller marine species could also become extinct, as many rely on sharks to kill their predators. And even smaller species eat algae. Without the sharks, there could be an insane overgrowth of algae in our oceans instead of beautiful coral reefs. Sharks balance out the marine ecosystem and without them, it could spiral out of control.
Make a conscious effort
Don’t eat shark. This seems obvious, but shark fin soup is considered a delicacy in many regions, especially Asia, and shark finning significantly contributes to the looming extinction of many species.
Eat sustainably sourced fish. Many sharks are captured as bycatch in fisheries due to poor fishing practices. Terms to look for when buying sustainably caught seafood: line caught, diver caught, sustainably caught, or sustainably harvested.
Dispose of hazardous waste properly. Hazardous materials like motor oil eventually end up washing into coastal areas because they aren’t disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way. This pollutes the water and kills marine life, like our sharks.
Spread awareness about how vital sharks are to the ecosystem. Many people simply don’t know how important they are to all of us and what is happening to their dwindling species. It’s not everyday we sit and consider the food chain and how we all play a part in it. But this is what Shark Week is all about… not just entertaining documentaries and movies about sharks.
Be kind to our oceans. They are sharks’ homes! Buy reusable plastic products, like water bottles, clean up our beaches and use ocean-friendly products like biodegradable sunscreen that won’t harm marine life or coral reefs, and don’t buy jewelry made of coral or turtle shell.
Spend time with our oceans! Go — bring your friends and family — and enjoy all the joy that the sea has to offer. It’s a great way to gain a new perspective, appreciate the beauty of the oceans and hop on board to protecting them and the creatures that call the ocean home.