Shark Awareness Day
We found this very informative article from our friends at the Environmental Defense Fund EDF and wanted to share it with everyone.
Sharks have ruled the oceans for at least 400 million years—a hundred-times longer than the roughly 4.5 million years since the first human-like hominids evolved…and even preceding dinosaurs by some 200 million years.
It’s an extraordinary run of evolutionary survival. But, sharks now face an overwhelming threat from a single species—humans—whose widespread and disruptive activities threaten the very fabric of ocean ecosystems.
Oceanic whitetips often swim with pilot fish, which scavenge for their leftover food. Until the 1960s, when intensive offshore fishing took off, oceanic whitetips could elude fishermen in remote waters.But now, one study found that Gulf populations have been depleted by 99%. Why?
They are caught in large numbers as incidental catch in swordfish and tuna fisheries. They are also sought after for their large fins for the Asian market. Recently, EDF and Cuban partners discovered what may be a nursery off northern Cuba that can be protected. We’re working to recover these highly imperiled sharks by protecting special places in the Gulf.
The Atlantic sharpnose, often seen in surf zones, is the most commonly caught coastal shark in the U.S. and an important source of food and income in Mexico.
But their nursery and pupping grounds are close to shore, and they’re often caught incidentally in shrimp trawls.
Sharpnoses grow fast and reach maturity early, so they can be sustainably fished if managed well—but they are heavily fished. EDF and partners are seeking to improve fishing management to protect them.
Caribbean reef sharks are plentiful in Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen, a coral reef ecosystem nearly untouched by humans.
But as a slow-growing species, they are especially vulnerable to overfishing.Populations are believed to be declining in the Gulf, where they are accidentally taken by fishermen, and their reef habitat is vulnerable to global warming and ocean acidification.
Both the U.S. and Cuba have special protections in place for the Caribbean reef shark. EDF and our partners are working to enhance local benefits from tourism and find alternatives to fishing.
Gentle giants, the harmless whale shark is the world’s largest fish (they grow to 65 feet). They’re known to migrate 8,000 miles or more. In the summer, they gather off northern Yucatan in Mexico, attracting tourists.
They’re harmed by contact with large fishing nets, ships, and divers. And, as surface filter-feeders, some may have been seriously harmed by the BP oil spill.
In an effort to save them, EDF is tracing migration patterns and exploring ways to safeguard the animals and their habitat.
This Shark Awareness Day, support EDF’s efforts to protect these great predators.
Help EDF fill the research gaps and improve fishing practices with a direct donation to EDF today:
All content, images and videos obtained from EDF website.