A couple of weeks ago my Facebook newsfeed was plastered with #ihatesharkweek. I too agree but I thought you might want to know why.
I LOVE SHARKS!
Not only are sharks beautiful, they are essential to reef ecosystems. Actually, the number of sharks present on a reef is a critical marker of that reef’s health. According to http://www.Oceana.org, sharks maintain the balance within the reef system and ensure species diversity. “The loss of sharks has been linked to the decline in coral reefs, seagrass beds and the loss of commercial fisheries,” says Oceana.org.
I’m a scuba diver and I care about the world’s reef systems because I want to go on fantastic vacations, but you should care too. Sharks protect our food supply. Huh? Yes, http://www.seashepherd.org points to how shark overfishing damages the shellfish industry because the sharks can no longer keep the rays and other shellfish predators in check. In Belize, shark fishing has damaged the grouper and parrotfish populations. Those fish eat algae that kills coral.
I can hear you, “how many people fish for sharks?” Well the decimation of shark populations around the world has many stories. On the world stage, the most important is the shark fin trade in Asia. Shark fins are a delicacy, and a bowl of soup can cost $100 according to http://www.stopsharkfinning.net. Millions of sharks have been fished in international waters on long lines. The sharks are pulled on board, all of their fins and tails are cut off, and the live shark is discarded back into the water to die: helpless.
Locally, the problem is fear — exacerbated by shows like those during Shark Week. These shows teach us to be fearful of sharks, focusing on stories about attacks on humans and the ferocity of a shark’s bite. The irony of some of these stories is actually amusing. We spent more than a century hunting the prey of great whites in California, seals. Then seals were put on the endangered species list and now have become a pest in some areas of California. Well, as the seal population recovered, so did the Great White population. So now there are more sharks off the coast. Yes, swimming out the back doors of movie stars in Malibu, and now swimmers, surfers, and divers are rightly scared, but sharks were always there. We had created an imbalance in our favor, and now Shark Week scares the nation against sharks.
Save our oceans, love a shark! How? You can go to the organizations linked in the story or go to http://www.projectaware.org and learn more.