Save the Sharks!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Written by May Warren

From Jaws to Deep Blue Sea, sharks have been staring in movies for decades. The image of that slate gray fin slicing through the waves on its way to devour some innocent New England vacationer has been collectively terrifying generations for years. And who can forget that music? In recent years tales of real life shark spottings and attacks have added to public fears about these often misunderstood giant fish.

It’s important to remember that these animals are also an endangered species in their own right, who often get a bad rep. Although there is more of a chance of being hit by lightening then being killed by a shark, and most shark deaths are preventable, media reports and Hollywood movies have contributed to the idea that sharks are a serious threat to humans, when in reality it is more the other way around. In fact, although only 10-15 people are actually killed by sharks each year around 100 million sharks are killed by people.

Sharks are wanted for their teeth and jaws, both of which are often used as ornaments. The oil from their livers is also used for its high Vitamin A content in skin creams. Also, the cartilage from shark bones is often used in fake cancer cure scams. In fact the hunting of sharks, both for these products and for sport alone has contributed to the endangeredness of whole categories of shark species.

Losing sharks would mean the loss of a species that contributes to oceans in many different ways. It would mean the loss of an effective predator that controls its prey population in its own way. Sharks do an excellent job of chowing down on diseased and defective members of the ocean and stabilizing populations which have grown too large. Without them the ocean would surely be quite a different place.

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