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In a study published Wednesday, researchers found that global shark populations have decreased by 71% in the last 50 years. 24 of the 31 species of sharks and rays are now classified as endangered, and 3 of the remaining species are critically endangered.
Why This Matters: Sharks play a crucial role in the marine ecosystem. As one of the top predators, they anchor the balance of species populations.
While in the U.S. 12 states have so far banned the sale of shark fins (while 5 federal bills have died in the House and Senate in the past 2 years), according to the Animal Welfare Institute, a Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit that updates its list of restaurants that serve shark fin soup and notifies the relevant state enforcement agencies– the bans haven’t stopped restaurants in at least 10 of the 12 states. Then in a bit of happy shark news, USA Today reported that a strikingly massive great white shark, one of the largest ever documented, was spotted by divers in Hawaii on Sunday as the apex predator feasted on a sperm whale carcass. The sighting of “Deep Blue” off Oahu was remarkable because the handful of previous sightings were documented 2,600 miles away at Guadalupe Island off Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.
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