In order to express the beauty and importance of the shark to it’s various ecosystems, Benjamin Von Wong created an extraordinary photograph entitled Shark Shepherd
He says, “Sharks are the shepherds of the sea, essentially to make sure everything flourishes. The more the sharks in an area, the more the fish population, and these all work together in beautiful harmony to insure a healthy diverse sea life and ultimately help to maintain the balance of the underwater ecosystem. The photos … are to help “transform the way we see sharks and prove that something beautiful is worth protecting. Just like sharks are the shepherds of the sea, we are the shepherds of our generation, and we can make a difference and have our voices heard (National Geographic).”
All of us are familiar with the Great White Shark, made infamous by the movie Jaws. This move set into motion a shark killing spree that continues to this day. The jaws of thousands of sharks are abundant. They are exhibited and collected–the Jaw of the Great White Shark most valued. These are trophy animals, shot, speared, harpooned for just being alive, feared and, yes, dangerous. They are, however, what they are because of an evolutionary need. They are more valuable alive then dead. We need to value these and all animals for what they give to their ecosystems.
Did you know that there are roughly 440 shark species known at this time, and that they live in every ocean/sea on our planet.
According to Michael Graham Richard whom is involved in Science and Ocean Conservation, “it is estimated that up to 100 million sharks are killed by people every year” as a result of commercial and recreational fishing. As a result, many sharks species are endangered, and little regard is given to the protecting most of them. Why? Because of people’s fear of shark attacks. “The average number of human fatalities worldwide per year between 2001 and 2006 from unprovoked shark attacks was 4.3.”
I argue, that this number may increase as seal populations disappear: once again due to human beings–the most dangerous animal on the planet. So what do we do. There is much evidence that sharks were swimming in the oceans during the dinosaurs. As noted above, they are invaluable participants in maintaining healthy ocean ecosystems, and so it is time to protect them. I am deeply grateful to Benjamin Von Wong, Michael Graham Richard, Wikipedia (an extensive list of threatened sharks) and others for bringing this to my attention.
On Michael Graham Richards site, treehugger.com, he discusses 10 endangered shark species, many of which are unknown to us: some very odd indeed. To see photos of these amazing creatures and to learn a little bit more about them go to his site, otherwise, do visit Wikipedia.
In brief he includes the critically endangered Angel Shark that looks like a disc with a tail. He notes that “during the comprehensive Mediterranean International Trawl Survey program from 1995 to 1999, only two angel sharks were captured from 9,905 trawls.”
The Daggernose Shark is also critically endangered. In one decade, a decline of 90% was recorded off the coast of Brazil. They expect similar declines elsewhere. Fishing pressures in the regions they live in “continues to grow more intense.
Another critically endangered species include the Dumb Gulper Shark, which lives off the coast of Australia.
The Zebra Shark, Great White, Shortfin Mako Shark, Basking Shark, Whale Shark, Dusky Shark are vulnerable, and lastly, the Speartooth Shark is endangered.
The World Conservation Union and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are active in recommending the implementation of conservation schemes and the expansion of fishery monitoring of various species. Nevertheless, there is great opposition from many countries to curb their fishing practices or the brutal and unnecessary killing of “man-eaters.” As said earlier, the rarity of attacks on humans is not a reason to indiscriminately slaughter these very important animals.