“Swimming the Shark waters”

June 10, 2010
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The world’s shark population is estimated to have declined by ninety percent. And today, shark species are near extinction, why does this not mean anything? I hear everyday: “Save the Pandas”, “Save the Whales”, and “Save the Elephants”. But “Save the Sharks”? That I only hear that once in a while and watching Shark Waters, I am alarmed by how spiteful and callous humans are. We have called sharks merciless, voracious, and blood thirsty predators. But are they really? Or is what we’re doing just an accusation done for the sake of having an excuse to hunt, and to be all those things we say they are but we aren’t? We are the monsters. This is a fact that we cannot hide, no matter how hard we try.
Sharks are one of the oldest living things on Earth. They have been here more than 400 million years ago; around 150 million years before the dinosaurs. Sharks have good sense of smell, eyesight, and lateral lines that are able to detect electrical impulses. They have stood on the top of the trophic level as top predator and controlled populations below them. By eliminating the weak species and creating new ones, the organisms of the ocean have been able to evolve and develop in speed, size, camouflage, communication, schooling behavior, and etc. Sharks take 25 years to reach sexual maturity and have few offspring at a time, but they have still been able to live and survive five major extinctions. However, today, the species that has shaped and held the balance of the ocean has met its match: the Homo sapiens sapiens.
In the movie Shark Waters, Vic Hislop says that he is on a mission to protect the people from sharks by hunting shark. There is however, no need to do so. It is true that a shark’s sharp teeth can give a first impression of making a shark look ferocious, but sharks are nowhere near what we think they are. They are beautiful creatures that are adept at hunting and though they eat a variety of life in the ocean, they do not attack humans mindlessly. In fact, soda pop machines kill more people per year than people do. Here’s the statistics for causes of deaths per year:
“ Sharks: 5
Elephants and tigers: 100
Execution: 2,400
Illegal drugs: 22,000
Road accidents: 1,200,000
Starvation: 8,000,000 ”
An average of five people are killed by sharks per year. That is not a lot at all compared to the number of people killed by starvation. Vic Hislop should protect people from starvation rather than sharks, don’t you think? On th e other hand, 10,000,000 sharks are killed each year just for their fins. When a shark is caught, its fins are cut off to be sold as a bowl of shark fin soup worth $90. As for the maimed creature, it is thrown back into the ocean, very much alive, though without its fins. And what’s a shark without its fins? Dead? Yes, it will die, but what comes first will be the suffering. Bleeding in the parts where it has been cut, the shark sinks down to the abyss below; and its feelings then, we will never know.
Long line fishing has 16,000 hooks. In the film Shark waters, sharks died along 60 miles of the lines; long lining had killed 1.5 million sharks in the time span of just six days. Shark hunters only care about the money they make from the fins they can rip away from the sharks. Some hunt sharks because they are “protecting the people from the malicious sharks”, but they hunt even the “gentle giants” the Whale Shark and the Basking Shark that though big in size, only eat plankton for a living. The importance of the sharks to our world is either not known or known but ignored by the people. Because sharks are the framework for the population below them, its annihilation would cause an upheaval in the trophic levels of the ecosystem that would be beyond repair. For instance, if sharks were gone, the plankton eaters in the level below would over hunt the plankton. This is a scary situation because the plankton produces up to 70% of the oxygen in our world. Thus, if the population of plankton declines… what would there be left for us to breathe?
Today, sixteen countries have banned shark finning and long lining is now illegal in Galapagos, one of the last shark sanctuaries in the world. However, this is hardly enough. In Asia, signs shark extinction is everywhere. They loom closer in big bold letters “Shark fin soup”; splattered with shark blood. I don’t eat shark fin soup, but my cousins do and what scares me the most, is their the stubbornness of not willing to listen to anything that goes against what their mouths want to chew. I even got into a fight with aunt once at the lunch table once when I tried to tell her (nicely) how cruel shark fining is. She cut me off in her I don’t care voice: “But my son likes it” and that was the end of the conversation. I was shocked by how hard it was to cause public awareness and stopped trying. But now having watched Shark Waters, I feel again the urgency for my duty as a citizen of the world. And I know that saving the sharks cannot be done alone so let us make a difference together to “Say No to Shark fin Soup” to “Save the Sharks” or even, to “Save Ourselves”.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Rosa223 said...
Jun. 25, 2010 at 5:06 pm
I used to be so scared of sharks. Now I love them. Is there an organization or anything that I can donate to?
PS. i LOVED the way you wrote the article. It had so much information I never knew existed. Thanks so much!
swimmingfreak319 said...
Jun. 12, 2010 at 6:18 pm
I totally agree with you but it is actually 100 million sharks killed yearly for their fins and meat. Sorry I just wanted to say that but yeah i totally agree with you. I also have my own little essay thing on this subject
devilyangels replied...
Jun. 13, 2010 at 1:24 am
Yeah, thanks! Must've left out a zero :)
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