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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 Staff Writer In the first two months of 2021, more manatees have died than in the first two months of 2020 and 2019 combined, totaling an estimated 350 animals. Despite recently passed protections for Florida’s seagrasses, a crucial part of the ecosystem that supports manatees, the sea cows are starving at higher rates and experts worry this […]
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer As the world warms, it’s not just people who are feeling the heat. Bats are also susceptible to extreme heat, and overheated bat boxes can be “a death trap,” the Guardian reports. In the wild, bats move between rock and tree crevices in search of a perfectly moderated temperature. […]
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer A new report entitled The World’s Forgotten Fishes from the World Wildlife Fund has found that there has been a “catastrophic” decline in freshwater fish, with nearly a third of all freshwater fish species coming perilously close to extinction. The statistics paint a sobering picture: 26% of all critically […]
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