Sharks: Serial Killers of the Seven Seas?

Sharks: Serial Killers of the Seven Seas?

Only a few dwellers of the deep strike as much fear and fascination as the shark.  For decades, sharks have been the rebels of the seven seas thanks to sensationalized stories and stereotyping from movies and novels. The classic picture painted by the minds of seafarers has had the sea monster feared rather than revered giving their rep an injustice.  Let’s set the record straight and dive in to find out if sharks are truly the grim reapers that they are or are they just misunderstood?


The Non-Human Diet

The mere thought of sharks killing people can make an exciting blockbuster, but contrary to popular belief the sea creature is on a non-human diet. They attack humans due to poor water visibility and the urge to take exploratory rites.  They mistake humans from their usual prey, which in most cases, fish or seals. Once they realize it’s not their usual diet, they’ll just leave you alone.

Sharks: Serial Killers of the Seven Seas?


Victims or Suspects?

We humans flatter ourselves by thinking sharks lurk by the waters as we get our tan or while we playfully splash water in our bikinis. To be honest, they’re not that interested. In the year 2016, only four shark-related deaths have been reported. This is nothing compared to how sharks are killed by the millions. A “shark attack” would only end up with a few hundred stitches or a loose leg or arm. I wish could say the same for this sea creature. Sharks don’t get that lucky when it comes to being stalked and hunted by their most formidable predator. They get finned then thrown overboard to drown, bleed to death or get eaten by other sharks.  

Sharks: Serial Killers of the Seven Seas?


Or Cops?

Being the apex predators that they are, sharks brings the marine ecosystem into full-circle by keeping the fish populations in check. Fishes then would overgraze and destroy large sections of the oceans. The marine realm would be in complete chaos. Sharks are keepers of the peace and order underwater. They sustain species diversity by eliminating the weak and the sick as is with keeping the equilibrium in the food chain.

Sharks: Serial Killers of the Seven Seas?


Silver Bullet Solution

Virtually see the creature with new eyes as the SSI Shark Ecology activity-rich course gets you geared up with new, as well as traditional techniques, for categorizing sharks, understanding behavior, and unraveling the secrecies its evolution. Explore universal shark populations and consider shark-human interactions and their influence on history and culture. These creatures are rapidly becoming endangered, and some are on the verge of extinction. If sharks were to vanish from the world’s oceans, the environmental consequences would be colossal. Our actions have directly, and indirectly, caused this injury; it is now up to us save them. Divers associate sharks with death because of sensationalized stories passed on over the years. Let’s not forget that the ocean is their natural habitat. We are only uninvited guests. Is it really fair to give them a bad rep?

Sharks: Serial Killers of the Seven Seas?


Just Breathe Better Underwater

This better be the last of it

Injured whale shark dies on Malaysia Shore : Associated Press : 3 Jan 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: A rare 23-foot-long (7-meter-long) whale shark got entangled in a fishing net off Malaysia’s northwest coast and was towed to shore but died due to injuries, local media reported Saturday.

Fisherman Key Chai Yang told the New Straits Times newspaper that it took two hours to tow the two-ton shark, known as a Rhincodon Typus, to land after it got entangled in his fishing net early Friday.

He said the shark was still alive when it reached shore in northern Penang state in Malaysia’s northwest, but it died shortly after from the multiple cuts it suffered from the propeller blades under his boat.

“I have never seen such a gigantic shark in my 30 years as a fisherman,” Key was quoted as saying.

A huge crowd turned up to see the carcass of the shark, which was later sent to the state fisheries department, the report said.

Fishery officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Rhincodon Typus, the largest fish in the world, can be found in warm tropical seas. The leviathan, which has distinctive white spots over its dark gray body, can grow as long as of 65 feet (20 meters) and live up to 70 years.

Photo from the New Straits Times

Malaysian fishermen face fine over shark catch : Associated Press : 4 Jan 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Four Malaysian fishermen could be fined for not releasing a protected 23-foot-long (7-meter-long) whale shark they caught by accident, local media reported Sunday.

They towed the 2.2 ton (2 metric ton) juvenile whale shark, known as a Rhincodon Typus, to shore after it got entangled Friday in their nets off the coast of northern Penang state.

It died shortly after from the multiple cuts it suffered from the propeller blades.

Penang Fisheries Department director Mohamad Najib Ramli told the Sunday Star newspaper the four men should have immediately released the shark since it was a protected species.

They questioned the fishermen and sent their statements to the department’s legal unit for further action, he said.

Ramli didn’t say how much they could be fined and fisheries officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

One of the fishermen, Key Chai Yang, told the New Straits Times newspaper the shark was still alive when it reached shore but it succumbed shortly after to its injuries.

The Rhincodon Typus, the largest fish in the world, can be found in warm tropical seas. The leviathan, which has distinctive white spots over its dark gray body, can grow as long as 65 feet (20 meters) and live up to 70 years.

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There is clearly still a lot to be done with regards to educating the general population about the endangered marine species present in our oceans.

One rule of thumb though , if you’ve never seen it before , it’s huge and odd looking, chances are it’s rare , don’t mess around with it. Sheesh.

Shark fin? – Is this the end for them ?

The shark is caught alive and whole. Within minutes, it is severed of its fins and thrown back into the ocean. Unable to swim, the shark sinks towards the bottom and is left to bleed to death or fall prey to other fishes. This method is known as finning. A highly calculated act to maximize profits no doubt but it is also a practice that is highly inhumane.

 

We seldom spare a thought for sharks and when we do, what comes to mind is Steven Spielberg’s vision of a shark terrorizing a coastal town, looking for its next meal. In reality, however, the reverse is true. The situation is dire for sharks as they are being emptied out of our oceans and into bowls of soup at an alarming rate. Sharks have roamed the oceans for the past 450 million years since the dinosaurs, and now there is a strong possibility that they might completely disappear in the near future.

 

It is not uncommon to find shark’s fin soup on the menu in restaurants across Asia. A dish guaranteed to bring in the profits; it is dish that will continue to stay on the menu as long as there is a demand for it. As China’s economy surges, this demand is set to grow exponentially as the level of disposal income for the average Chinese increase. Given the sharks’ low reproduction rate and their slow maturity rate, the extinction of sharks is a very real possibility.

The problem of overfishing presents itself as one of most pressing issues today and while modern technology has allowed for bigger fishing vessels and better nets, the expected bigger returns are not realized. In 2006, The BBC reported that the total amount of fish caught globally has decreased by 13% from 1994 to 2003 and put forth a bold prediction that seafood would be off the menus within the next 50 years.

While many governments over the world are working to set up regulations against overfishing for commercial fishes such as tuna and salmon, there are no catch limits being put forth towards protecting sharks. As the supply for these commercial fishes dwindle, fisheries and consumers have taken to targeting sharks as an alternative source.

Current regulations state that sharks should not be just killed for their fins and but should be fully utilized and a number of individual countries have went on further to ban the act of finning. However, it is the enforcement of such regulations that prove to be extremely tricky out in the ocean that seemingly presents itself as a free-for-all game. Institutions such as Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherds may have tried to stop these rogue fishing expeditions, but the only clear way to end such fishing practices lie in the hands of the consumers.

Consumers today have little understanding of where their bowl of shark’s fin soup originates and are generally unaware if the sharks are being caught through illegally or unsustainable means. What is more surprising however, is what shark’s fin is used for. The fins itself have no taste in themselves are used merely to add texture to the soup. While it is the fin that lends the soup its name, it is a very possible that it can be removed altogether.

In Hong Kong, after fierce criticism from conservationists, the Walt Disney Company, creator of the film “Finding Nemo” with the tagline: “fish are friends, not food” bowed to pressure and removed shark’s fin soup from the menu in the Hong Kong Disneyland theme park. On the local front, there is an increasing number of newlyweds who have decided not to serve shark’s fin soup as part of their traditional wedding dinner. These actions towards the preservation of sharks though rudimentary, are vital and present a small glimmer of hope that change is imminent.

It is more than just preventing of the extinction of sharks. The survival of sharks is key to maintaining the marine ecosystem. A system that is highly volatile, a rapid decimation of sharks will destabilize the fragile balance. It is unsurprising that reports are beginning to reveal that scallops are declining, as fishes that prey on these shellfish are unchecked. Sharks also provide an important revenue source for the dive tourism industry around the world.

In the 2007 Wild Aid Report for sharks, sharks were identified as “likely to be in the first round of marine extinctions caused by human activity.” 50 years on, as hard as it may be to predict what the world would be like then, it is definitely without a doubt that should the demand for shark increase, sharks will join their prehistoric counterparts, the dinosaurs.

What you can do:
– Find out more about sharks
– Share this information with a friend or a family member.
– When the buying stops, so will the killing. Avoid shark-related products.

For more details:
– http://www.sharkwater.com/index.php
– http://www.wildaid.org/PDF/reports/EndOfTheLine2007US_Oceana.pdf

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