Sharks: Keeping our oceans healthy
For 450 millions years sharks have been evolving within the ocean arena. It would be impossible for this evolution to have not become directly entwined with the evolution of other ocean species. Now, whatever your opinion of sharks, one thing is for sure ocean life would never be the same again without them and here is why…
Caretaker duty one: As Apex predators (So the top dogs of the ocean) sharks do a great service to the ocean, by keeping prey populations in check. It is basic ecology that all organisms have a carrying capacity, and that if their numbers go beyond that carrying capacity they can begin to do damage to their habitat and the species they share it with, this is why the sharks job is vital.
Caretaker duty two: The Shark is what’s known in the scientific world as a keystone species. This means that the whole ocean food chain would collapse without them around. So if you see that label on a species in future, it means they are of high importance.
Caretaker duty three: They keep the human fishery industry healthy. In areas where sharks have depleted so to have commercially important species. Due to chaos within the areas ecology.
Caretaker duty four: They pick off the sick and the weak keeping fish populations healthy. This helps prevent the spread of disease keeping other ocean species healthy as well. Following Charles Darwin’s survival of the fittest, the sharks help to keep their prey species genepool strong. Also scavenging along the sea floor, for dead animals helps keep nutrient levels in the water in balance. Which is important because too many nutrients in the water can make it turn toxic, leading to problems such as coral bleaching.
Caretaker duty five: By modifying their preys behaviour they help prevent overgrazing. Their intimidating presence means that the prey has to hide when the sharks around and as such, have less opportunity to feed, meaning they eat less. This is a good thing because overgrazing leads to destruction of their habitat and ultimately no more food and no more place to live. Hence why in ecology all creatures have a carrying capacity.
Caretaker duty six: Duty six is purely the benefit sharks bring to humans through ecotourism and fisheries. Shark ecotourism boosts the economy and provides jobs for people and for reasons discussed above the shark keeps fisheries healthy and prevents other predators eating commercially important species in great numbers.
So you see, the shark is very important but currently 90% of the worlds shark species are in trouble. Between 70 -100 million sharks are killed a year, over 10,000 and hour! These numbers really can’t be sustained for so many reasons. So please lets stop hating sharks and fearing sharks. Lets see them for what they really are; vital and important members of our planet who deserve our respect and appreciation. Lets work to protect the shark because if we don’t they will be gone and where would we be then?
I am facing my fears for shark conservation. Please check out my story by visiting my just giving page justgiving.com/fundraising/Kerry-Payton1