This article was updated on July 14th, 2021.
Having watched “Jaws” at a very young age, I immediately get flashbacks to “Amity Island” when I enter the water. Although it might not be the first thing that comes to mind, sharks have an essential role in ecosystems, medical research, and even the economy. This Shark Awareness Day, we decided to dig in on the importance of the apex predator, which role is crucial to maintaining a balance on healthy oceans. Learn key facts and how to help the endangered species.
Check out these interesting shark facts and get in the know about the threats that are increasingly damaging and compromising this vital sea species.
Did You Know….
- Sharks are over 400 million years old- yes, 400 million. This means that sharks are older than dinosaurs, and even trees. They’ve survived five global mass extinction events and are now facing their biggest threat to their existence- humans.
- Humans are a more significant threat to sharks than sharks are to humans. While there are only around 20-50 shark attacks each year (in 2020 there was an unusual spike in fatalities with 57 reported cases worldwide), humans kill around 100 million sharks per year through commercial fishing due to the high demand for shark fins in global trade. Essentially, 10,000 sharks die every hour. On top of that, toxic chemical pollution and garbage disposal destroys their habitat, endangers their existence, and ruins the ocean’s eco-system.
- According to World Wilde Life (WWF), 17 out of the 39 pelagic shark species are threatened with extinction. Again, this is primarily caused by the destructive human activities that leave these intelligent and vital creatures vulnerable and endangered.
- Sharks are the ocean’s apex predators, meaning that they are at the top of the ocean’s food chain and are integral to keeping the food-chain and the ecosystem in balance and healthy. If sharks become extinct, the primary food sources that we acquire from fisheries will be severely tampered with, and the coral reefs could be eradicated
So, what can you do to help?
There are a bunch of great shark conservation organizations that you can donate to or join to help save these amazing creatures. Some great organizations to get involved with are project AWARE, Shark Friendly Marinas, the Shark Research Institute and Shark Angels. Get aware, get involved, and help save the sharks!