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Blog Tags: Sharks

Can Sharks 'Go Rogue'?

great white shark

Great white shark in South Africa. [Image via Discovery.com]

Editor's note: Happy Shark Week! All week long we'll be re-capping some highlights from Shark Week programming. Today we review "Going Rogue" and "Summer of the Shark."

Would a shark ever “go rogue” and start mercilessly attacking humans? That’s the question that last night’s episode in the Shark Week lineup sought to answer. Ever since New England beachgoers were terrorized by a rogue shark in “Jaws,” it has been a common fear that sharks, particularly great whites, are ruthless, man-eating machines.

This episode shed some light on the matter with a mix of shark attack stories and scientific studies on shark behavior. The conclusions likely elicited a collective sigh of relief across America: Sharks have never in fact gone rogue like Jaws did, but instead almost always bite a human as a result of other environmental factors at play.

In reality, the likelihood of being attacked by a shark is extremely slim. So for all the readers out there who were wondering whether it was safe to go back in the water, consider the possibility of a shark going rogue to be out of the question.


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An Invasion of Great White Sharks?

great white shark

Great white shark. © Oceana/David Stephens

Editor's note: Happy Shark Week! All week long we'll be re-capping some highlights from Shark Week programming, starting with today, and "Great White Invasion."

Great white sharks appear to be more common than ever nowadays, according to “Great White Invasion,” which aired last night as a part of Shark Week's first night of programming. The episode tracked these huge predators as they encroach on popular beaches from Australia to South Africa to southern California.

Why they are coming closer to shore is not completely understood, but scientists point to the availability of fish as well as the opportunity for sharks to sunbathe and enjoy higher oxygen levels in shallower waters as possible explanations. And even though the number of annual shark attacks worldwide has risen in recent years, it is still extremely low compared to the number of beachgoers.

So are great whites really “invading” our coastlines? Not quite. In fact, according to the Census for Marine Life, scientists estimate that there are only about 3,500 great white sharks left in the entire world. Of these, an estimated 219 live off the central California coast, so in reality, sharks aren’t exactly swarming in our oceans just yet.


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Friday Infographic: Fishing Down the Food Chain

This is the second in a series of ocean infographics by artist Don Foley. These infographics also appear in Oceana board member Ted Danson’s book, “Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them.”  

With shark week fast approaching, how about a shark-related infographic to whet your appetite?

Today’s infographic illustrates how overfishing fundamentally alters ocean ecosystems, leading to fewer and smaller fish over time.

Infographic by Don Foley

If overfishing isn’t stopped, the largest fish like sharks, tuna, cod, and salmon eventually run out and overfishing expands to previously untargeted, smaller spe­cies, some of which were considered undesirable. As a result, the world catch is now primarily made up of small fish like pollock rather than large predators like grouper, and this shift to smaller and smaller species over time is called “fishing down the food chain.”


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Shark Week Cometh

Shark Week is almost here -- are you ready?

For the second year in a row, Oceana is partnering with Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, which kicks off on Sunday, July 31st at 9PM. We’re especially stoked about the host this year, comedian and Chief Shark Officer Andy Samberg.

For a one-hour special, Samberg travels to the Bahamas to swim with sharks off the shores of Nassau. Another of this year’s highlights is “Jaws Comes Home,” a Mike Rowe-narrated feature that follows five great white sharks as they make their 1,200-mile journey up and down the eastern seaboard.

Keep your eyes peeled for the nightly Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that encourage viewers to help protect sharks with Oceana.

Here are a few more ideas for how to celebrate the 24th annual sharktacular:

1. Take Action If even just 10% of all Shark Week viewers took action to protect sharks, that would equal millions of people speaking up for the animals they tune in to see each year.

2. Adopt a Shark. Make a $35 donation and get a shark cookie cutter and recipe card.

3. Play Shark Bingo. Add a little competition to your shark-watching with these Shark Week Bingo Cards. Grab a beverage, and turn it into a drinking game -- you can even use bottle caps as playing pieces.

Check out Discovery’s full programming schedule and stay tuned for our episode recaps and more shark fun next week!


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Victory: Court Rules in Favor of Oceana on Bycatch

© Oceana/ Jesus Renedo

Great news for the oceans: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled in favor of Oceana in a suit that will require commercial fisheries from North Carolina to the Canadian border to monitor and report the amount of bycatch, or untargeted marine life, they discard.

This victory may seem like a small step, but it is a triumph against one of the biggest problems facing our oceans today. Bycatch is a major player in the destruction of marine ecosystems, and occurs when fishing gear indiscriminately traps marine life in nets, trawls, and fishing lines.

Tons of fish are wasted and thousands of marine mammals, sea turtles, sharks and sea birds are injured or killed every year as bycatch. While the new law does not place limits on bycatch, it represents a crucial and long-awaited step in increasing the transparency in commercial fishing.

“For more than 15 years NMFS has violated the law, managing America’s fisheries without reliable information about how much fish and other marine wildlife is being shoveled over the side of boats, often dead or dying,” said Gilbert Brogan, northeast representative for Oceana. “This ruling is a significant step towards improving the management of U.S. fisheries in the Atlantic.”

Congratulations to everyone who helped win this victory for more abundant oceans!


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Get Your Fins on an Official Shark Week Party Kit

oceanic white tip shark

We’ve got Shark Week fever early this year and it is contagious! Or at least, we hope so, because we’ve got 10 official Shark Week party kits on our hands. Want to get a hold of one? It’s pretty simple.

Before noon tomorrow, Tuesday July 19, pop over to Twitter and send this tweet:

I want an official #SharkWeekPartyKit, so I'm following @Oceana and saving sharks ow.ly/5BqPl

Make sure you are following us (@Oceana) on Twitter, because that’s how I’ll be getting in touch with our lucky winners later this week. Want bonus feel good points, too? Make sure to take action to save sharks, too.

But let’s back up a second. What’s even in an official Shark Week party kit? In a cool Shark Week backpack, you'll find...

-       a Shark Week tee shirt
-       coasters
-       cookie cutter
-       recipe card
-       balloons
-       napkins
-       bottle opener
-       bingo cards
-       episode guide
-       shark fact sheet
-       page to collect your friends’ signatures in the fight to save sharks

Whew! Are you tired reading that? I know I got a bit winded just typing it.

As for rules, I’ll be using a random generator to pick our winners, so don’t do anything sneaky like create a million accounts to try to cheat the system. Plus, I’m only going to count one tweet per person. And sorry, international fans - this one’s just for the US tweeters.

So, tweet away (just once, remember!) and share the Shark Week fever!


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3 Ways to Get Ready for Shark Week

great white shark

On July 31, Shark Week is back!  Need some ideas on how to celebrate this, the sharkiest time of year? We're here for you:

1.    Share the Shark Week Love
Have your friends over for a watch party. Check out the programming schedule. I recommend "Jaws Comes Home" on July 31, but there's a full week of great shark shows to pick from.

Don’t know what to serve? Shark cookies, of course! Make a $35 donation and get a shark cookie cutter and recipe card so your friends can take a bite out of a great white while watching great whites take a bite out of seals.

2.    Shark Week 2.0
Bump up your watch party guest list by a few thousand. Take photos and share them with us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Have shark questions? Ask away on Facebook and Twitter and our shark experts will keep you shark savvy.

3.    Save Sharks
For one week a year, over 30 million Americans are glued to their TV sets, transfixed by incredible stories of amazing, powerful sharks. But the true story is that they can’t save themselves from their top predator: us.

Caught on fishing lines and targeted for their fins, shark numbers are dropping, and fast. If even just 10% of all Shark Week viewers took action to protect sharks, that would equal millions of people speaking up for the animals they tune in to see each year.

Make sure that Shark Week isn’t the only time we can see sharks. They are great to watch on TV, but we need them in the wild, too.


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Oceana Uncovers Dangerous Mercury Levels in Fish

© Oceana/Juan Cuetos

Spain’s biggest newspaper, El País, featured Oceana prominently in this morning’s cover story. The article describes Oceana’s unrelenting effort to make previously confidential research regarding unsafe mercury levels in large fish freely accessible to the public, highlighting an important victory with implications for the health of the Spanish populace and the transparency of the Spanish government.

Here’s the back story: in 2003, Spain’s Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) conducted a large research study that documented levels of mercury and other heavy metals in large fish such as various sharks, swordfish, and bluefin tuna.

The results of the study were not good: 62.5 percent of the 128 mako shark samples and 54.2 percent of the swordfish samples contained high, unpermitted levels of mercury. Despite this alarming evidence, the results were never released due to concerns about its possible impact on the fishing industry.


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Bad News, Good News for the Oceans

Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Let’s start with the bad:

In a new report released this week, the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) warns that ocean life is "at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history”.

The preliminary report from IPSO is the result of the first-ever interdisciplinary international workshop examining the combined impact of all of the stressors currently affecting the oceans, including pollution, warming, ocean acidification, overfishing and hypoxia.

It turns out that the confluence of overfishing, pollution and climate change is worse than previously thought, as Oceana’s Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist Mike Hirshfield explains to CBS News in this clip:

OK, now for the good news: Juliet Eilperin reports that despite all the aforementioned threats facing the oceans, some areas still teem with life, such as the eastern Pacific’s California Current.


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Unpacking the Shark Myth: ‘Demon Fish’

demon fish

Washington Post environment and politics reporter Juliet Eilperin has a new book out today that explores the science and mythology behind the ocean’s top predators.

In “Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks,” Eilperin travels the globe -- she swims with whale sharks in Belize and great white sharks in South Africa -- to investigate how individuals and cultures relate to sharks and how the misperceptions surrounding them threaten their continued existence on the planet.

The book also includes a few nods to Oceana’s shark campaign work, including our work to combat the use of squalane in beauty products, and actress January Jones’ visit to Capitol Hill to advocate for sharks.  

But enough about us, be sure to check out NPR’s great interview with Eilperin, and catch her on tour in the coming months. You can see her full tour schedule as well as excerpts, reviews and other information about the book at www.demonfishbook.com.

Here’s a book trailer for “Demon Fish” to whet your appetite:

 


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