Saving Sharks is Important!

Guest Post by: Maija Elizabeth, creator of Sustainably Maija 

Hi everyone and welcome back to Happy Eco News! My name is Maija Elizabeth and I am a sustainability content creator, otherwise known as Sustainably Maija. I have previously written two other articles for Happy Eco News, “7 Ways We Can Help Protect the Oceans” and “Saving The Turtles During Nesting Season”. My biggest passion is ocean conservation and I believe you cannot be a true ocean lover without being an advocate for sharks. Movies like Jaws and 47 Meters Down have been at fault for spiking people’s fear of sharks. Today, I am hoping to make you less scared of sharks and instead more appreciative of them. Happy reading!

Quick Shark Facts!

First things first, let’s get you interested in sharks! Did you know that sharks are older than trees and dinosaurs? Sharks evolved about 450 million years ago, while dinosaurs evolved 250 million years ago and trees evolved 390 million years. There are 500 different species of sharks and over 140 species are listed as endangered. Sharks are apex predators and are very important when it comes to the health of the ocean. The largest shark is a whale shark, which can be up to 12 meters long (40 feet). Whale sharks are actually the largest fish in the ocean. They are commonly mistaken for mammals, but they do produce eggs. They don’t lay eggs, instead, the eggs hatch while inside the womb of a female whale shark and are born looking like a small adult whale shark. Pretty cool, right? The smallest shark is the dwarf lantern shark, which can be smaller than the average human hand! 

Busting Shark Myths!

Movies like Sharknado, The Shallows, Jaws, and even Finding Nemo made me terrified of sharks for the longest time. Myths about sharks have been passed down for so many years and now it is time to bust them. I am glad that with research and understanding I no longer believe in the following myths! 

-Sharks are not attracted to human blood! You can go into the ocean with a little scrape that could be bleeding and sharks will not be attracted to it. This myth was created because of how they are attracted to fish blood, but sharks can tell the difference between fish blood and human blood pretty easily.

-Megalodons are in fact, extinct! Plenty of scientists have confirmed the extinction of the massive shark species, but conspiracy theorists keep ramping up the idea that they may still be alive. 

-Sharks do not attack out of anywhere! It is possible for sharks to sneak up on someone and could mistake a human for prey, but sharks are actually terrified of humans. They see us as predators! Sharks will most definitely attack if provoked, which is how most shark bites and attacks occur. Sharks attacks are not as common as the movies make us think! 10 people are killed on average every year by sharks!. More people die from falling coconuts and hippos than they die from sharks.

-Not all sharks are a threat! Species like whale sharks, nurse sharks, basking sharks, and many more are close to harmless. Of course, all animals do have a defence mechanism and should always be respected and given space.

Sharks are the ones in danger!

Over 100 million sharks die every year from being killed for their fins, meat, livers, jaws, and teeth, and are also killed recreationally, a.k.a. for fun. That means 3 sharks are killed every second! Shark populations have declined by 70% in the past 50 years. Shark fins are used for a popular soup called Shark Fin Soup, which is still a somewhat rare delicacy in places like China. Shark meat and fins have been found to have high levels of mercury, which can be toxic to humans. The shark fin trade is anything, but ethical. Sometimes if the shark fishermen are only trying to get fins they will catch the shark, cut off its fins, and then throw the body back into the ocean with the shark still alive. Sharks desperately need their fins to be able to swim and end up dying a very slow and painful death from this. Sharks are killed for their livers to provide an oil called squalene for makeup and skincare products. Squalene can come from a number of things, but you would be surprised how many of our products could contain shark squalene without us knowing. Sharks’ jaws and teeth are often found in tourist shops all over the world, usually mistaken as fossils from sharks. Fossilized shark teeth are black and are usually the most commonly found coloured teeth on shorelines, but white shark teeth are often pulled from a shark’s mouth. Buy the black teeth and boycott the white ones unless you know firsthand that it was found spontaneously! Sharks have survived 5 mass extinctions and now are in danger of not surviving the current one all because of humans.

How can we as individuals save sharks?

The most effective thing you can do is either reduce the amount of fish you consume or eliminate it from your diet completely. Although, if you fish for yourself or buy from a local fisherman that is better than supporting the large corporations. Overfishing by large corporations is causing a lot of damage to ecosystems in the ocean. They are accidentally catching sharks, dolphins, and other animals along with the thousands of fish they remove daily. Another way we can help sharks is to reduce our plastic consumption and clean up trash in our communities. Sharks feel the impacts of plastic pollution just like every other animal in the sea! Lastly, we can help sharks by signing petitions and being active in our government. Call, email, or write to your representatives to let them know that you want sharks to be protected in your state. Also, make sure you are registered to vote so you can elect people who care about our planet. Blaming corporations and putting pressure on politicians to pass legislation is easier said than done, but I believe individual action is very important!

Companies and organizations to support!

I have been saying shark fishermen are doing these unethical actions toward sharks, but ideally they are not the ones at fault. The big corporations who profit from the shark fishing industry are indeed the ones at fault! The men and women who work for the industry usually do not want to work the gruesome and bloody job of killing sharks, but they are trying to make money to provide for their families. Project Hiu is an amazing organization created by Madison Stewart, who is a well-known shark advocate and filmmaker. The purpose of Project Hiu is to help shark fishermen find an alternative income in tourism and not be employed in the mass extinction of sharks. You can visit projecthiu.com to donate to them and support sharks! Some more companies and organizations to support would be 4Ocean, Save The Sharks, Shelby Reef, Finatics, and Fahlo. 

I hope you enjoyed today’s post about how we can help save the sharks! Even if this post did not cure your fear of sharks, I do hope there is now an understanding about how important sharks are to our oceans. If there is no healthy ocean then there is no us! Be sure to check out all of those companies and organizations listed above. Thank you for taking the time to read this article and I hope you have a great rest of your day!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.