Hey there, I wanted to share this article with you all. I know that a lot of people have a great fear of sharks but these amazing creatures do not deserve this stereotype and are so vital to the health of our oceans.
Reposted from http://southernfriedscience.com/2009/05/10/four-things-everyone-needs-to-know-about-sharks/
Four things EVERYONE needs to know about sharks
2) Sharks are important to the health of the oceans. Without them, many ocean ecosystems, including several that are vital to the economy, are in danger of collapsing. This collapse would have devastating ecological and economic consequences… and some of these consequences have already started to happen. In addition to providing natural selection pressure and allowing only the fittest to survive by preying upon the weakest, sickest, and smallest fish, sharks are also important to marine ecosystems in other ways. In the Outer Banks of North Carolina, tiger shark populations have declined over 97% since 1972. One of their prey items, the cownose ray, has skyrocketed in population without tiger sharks to eat them. These cownose rays eat scallops… and with so many more rays, the scallop population of the Outer Banks has all but collapsed. This is bad news not only for the numerous other organisms that eat scallops, but also for the thousands of people who used to work as scallop fisherman. A similar event took place in Tasmania. Massive declines in shark populations led to an increase in octopus populations, since there are so many fewer sharks preying on them. These octopus eat, among other things, Tasmanian rock lobsters. The Tasmanian rock lobster fishery is now almost completely gone. A more complex shark decline related ecosystem destabilization, this one taking place in coral reefs, has led to a decrease in algae-grazing parrotfish populations… and a huge increase in algae. Algae in the Caribbean is starting to take over reefs, killing coral. Coral reefs are home to thousands of unique species of fish and invertebrates, and they generate billions in ecotourism dollars worldwide. This algae takeover is one of the biggest threats facing coral reefs, and food chain destabilization as a result of shark population declines is one of the biggest causes of algae takeover. Losses of sharks are directly related to the destruction of coral reefs.
3) Sharks are in serious trouble. Many shark species have declined in population over 90% in the last 25 years. Bycatch is one of the biggest threats facing sharks. While fishing for other species, sharks are caught by accident and are killed. Another major threat facing sharks is finning. Sharks of many species are caught, their fins are cut off, and the still-living rest of the shark (far less valuable than the fin) is dumped overboard to bleed to death or drown. This brutal and unsustainable practice provides material for shark fin soup, a Chinese delicacy associated with celebration. The fins, which are made of cartilage, add absolutely no flavor or nutritional value whatsoever to the soup. By some estimates, over 100 million sharks a year are killed for their fins.
4)Human beings are better off with sharks than we are without sharks, and we are in danger of losing them forever… but you can help! The absolute most important thing that you can do to help, you are already doing just by reading this. Learn all you can about sharks, their ecological and economic importance, and the threats they face. Pass on what you have learned to others. Public education will help far more sharks than these guys ever will. The more people that know about this, the better off sharks will be!
~WhySharksMatter All photographs of and by the author
Thanks for reading. Our whale watching tours are scheduled to start on June 20th! Stay tuned for more information!