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Why This Matters: As Philip Matich, a marine biologist at Texas A&M-Galveston says, “Sharks have important roles in marine ecosystems, but disturbance can alter this role.” This, in turn, can impact the ecosystem, since as one of the top predators in the water sharks regulate prey populations. But, as the study notes, not all hope is lost. Countries like the Bahamas which provide sanctuaries and protect coral reefs have healthy shark populations. This Shark Week, we should take steps to protect sharks and the coral reefs they depend upon. As Sala says, you can sell a live shark to tourists over and over, but you “can only sell a dead shark once.”
So what do these steps look like? As Chris Lowe, director of the Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab, told CBS Los Angeles, “There are tools that work, like green protected areas we know can work. Banning the use of gillnets in certain areas, we know can work. Regulating fisheries and managing them better, we know can work.”
Some parts of the US have actually implemented these steps. As Lowe continues, “California has done a really good job, I think, of managing many of its fisheries. We’ve seen shark populations decline back in the 60s through the mid-90s and then through a series of better fisheries management practices, we’ve been able to better protect many of the populations that were being harvested.”
The Meaning of More Sharks
Some fear that more sharks could potentially mean more shark attacks. However, as Lowe’s lab showed, that isn’t necessarily correct. Based on drone footage recorded during a two-year project, Lowe and his team found that “sharks simply ignore people.” He said to USA Today, “Every once in a while [the sharks] change their path, they get a little startled and take off.” Last year, there were only 64 documented unprovoked shark attacks worldwide, and only two were fatal.
by Amy Lupica, ODP Contributing Writer Sharks have killed seven people in Australia in 2020, the most since 1934, and scientists believe climate change might be responsible. According to the Taronga Conservation Society Australia, for the past 50 years, the average number of yearly shark attack fatalities was one. Despite the total number of shark […]
Human activity has nearly doubled the rate of natural disasters in the last quarter-century. And as the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) explained in a new report out this week: While many natural disasters cause great financial hardship and can tragically result in loss of human life, animals are often overlooked in the chaos. […]
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