Sharks, Love Them or Hate Them, We Still Need Them

Sharks are a fascinating creature that have been around since before the days of the dinosaur.  Through neglect, fear and greed, we humans are wiping them out at an alarming rate.  Shark- finning, a type of fishing where the sharks are caught, the fin is sliced off and the shark is discarded back into the ocean to die has become a huge problem as it kills over 100 million sharks per year.  All this cruelty and waste because Shark Fin soup is a delicacy that is in high demand in China.  Bycatch is another way that sharks are being killed.  This is a method of fishing where other fishes are caught unintentionally along with the target fish such as Tuna.  These along with a destruction through pollution of a shark’s natural habitat are some of the reasons for the decrease in the shark population.

Some may not really care about the shark population declining, however, here is what happens if there are no sharks.  As an Apex predator, they are responsible for keeping ecosystems in balance.  The shark is at the top of the food chain, and basically it eats smaller fish, who eat smaller fish, and so on, until we get to the small fish who algae, which if not kept in balance will destroy the coral reefs, home to millions of species of marine life, and  our shorelines would resemble a green carpet.    An imbalance of sharks also affect the fishing industries.  For example, sharks eat sting rays and sting rays love scallops.  Off the coast of North Carolina, the over fishing of sharks caused an overpopulation of sting rays who ate all the scallops.  This ended scallop fishing in North Carolina.  When the ecosystem is not in balance, the repercussions are felt by all.  Sharks control the oceans ecosystem which covers 2/3 of our planet. Our oceans provide us with more than half of the oxygen that we breath.  Also, over 3 billion people rely on the oceans for food and livelihood, it is clear that sharks are not a pest to be controlled, but an integral member of our ecosystem.  As you can see, the repercussions of a world with no sharks could be very bad for us.  It may also lead to our destruction.