While most are aware of the plight of charismatic creatures, like dolphins and whales, few know, often blinded by misguided fears, of the shark’s current fate. Sharks are disappearing at an alarming rate – their numbers down by 90% in some regions – with many species facing extinction during our lifetime. Over 73,000,000 sharks will be killed this year. That’s over 11,000 every hour.
as sharks have evolved into terrifying monsters, in large part thanks to Hollywood, though these vicious killers exist within our collective imagination. And thus, most share the inaccurate sentiment “the only good shark is a dead shark” – their fear standing in the way of sharks’ conservation.The frightening reality is, like them or not, sharks play a crucial role on the planet. As the apex predators, the role of sharks is to keep other marine life, regulating the world’s largest and most important ecosystem. Remove sharks from the oceans and we tamper with the ecosystem that provides 1/3 of our world’s protein source, employs more than 4 million people, produces more oxygen than all the rainforests combined, removes half of the atmosphere’s manmade greenhouse gases, and controls our planet’s temperature and weather. Recent studies are already indicating that regional elimination of sharks can cause disastrous effects including the collapse of fisheries and the death of coral reefs. In addition to the factors challenging all marine creatures - pollution, destruction of habitat, and elimination of food sources - sharks face an even more urgent threat: the demand for their fins are skyrocketing increasing their value exponentially.Shark fin soup, a traditional cultural delicacy, has been a highlight at important occasions such as corporate banquets, weddings, and New Years celebrations for over centuries. But, over the last 30 years, the number of people eating shark's fin has risen from a few million in the 1980’s to more than 300 million today. And shark populations are suffering, putting our – and our planet’s health – at risk. A single whale shark fin can sell for upwards of $50,000 USD. As the demand for shark fin far outweighs supply, no sharks are safe from desperate fisherman – sharks everywhere – even the handful that are protected and in the few areas that are protected - are under attack. Other uses for sharks are increasing, and unfortunately, the laws protecting them are few and far between.
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