With Shark Week beginning on August 2 right around the corner and the Shark Conservation Act of 2009 on the legislative table, shark conservation has been at the center of many ocean advocacy groups. Including Oceana, the largest international organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation, who works hard to safeguard sharks all year round. These often misunderstood creatures are in grave trouble, and they need your help to spread the truth. So here are 5 things you (and everyone you know!) should know about sharks:
1.Sharks are not a serious threat to humans. In fact, you are more likely to get killed by a vending machine or get hit in the head by a coconut than get killed by a shark. And of the over 350 species of sharks, only three (the white, tiger and bull shark) are responsible for the majority of shark attacks.
2.Not all sharks are voracious predators. As a matter of fact, whale sharks (the largest shark species) and megamouth sharks are filter feeders that consume a diet primarily of phytoplankton and krill. In addition, most “attacks” on humans are mistakes. The sharks let go of the person once they realize that it is not what they wanted. Which also explains why there are so many more bites than fatalities.
3.Sharks are essential to the health of the oceans. They are key species in several ocean ecosystems that, without them, are in danger of collapsing. And this collapse would have devastating ecological and economic consequences, as species would not be controlled by natural selection and many job industries based around oceans and fishing would shut down.
4.Sharks face serious threats. Many shark species have declined in population over 90% in the last 25 years due to bycatch and finning . In bycatch, sharks are accidentally caught and killed by commercial fishermen who are fishing for other species. Finning also poses a serious threat to sharks because they are thrown back into the water to bleed or drown to death after getting their fins cut off for delicacies such as shark fin soup.
5.Human beings are better off with sharks than without them. And we’re in danger of losing them! So don’t let the public’s misconceptions about sharks prevent your children and grandchildren from being able to see sharks firsthand. The more people know about sharks, the better off they will be. So pass this information on to everybody you know. Learn more about sharks and Oceana’s work , and take action to make sure that sharks will be protected now and in the future.
Copy of Shark Conservation Act of 2009 Bill Number: H.R. 81/S. 850 Bill Status: Passed House HSUS Position: Support Bill Sponsor(s): Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) Legislature Status: In Session To protect sharks from the cruel practice of shark finning (cutting off sharks' fins and throwing the sharks back in the water, often while still alive).Congress banned this practice in 2000, but enforcement is complex and there is room for cheating. This legislation closes a loophole that currently permits a vessel to transport fins obtained illegally as long as the sharks were not finned aboard that vessel.