If you’re like most ocean lovers, you’ve probably spent a few nights this week tuning in to Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. But as we celebrate our collective love of sharks, we should also take a moment to reflect on the many threats that sharks face.
Sharks have existed for roughly 450 million years—even before the dinosaurs. But, the very adaptations that have allowed sharks to survive for so many millions of years may now be working against them in the face of a relatively new threat: fishing. Under modern fishing pressure, are certain sharks “evolved for extinction”?
- Australia’s Queensland Government says they have fulfilled all of UNESCO's requests to improve Great Barrier Reef health—including cutting pesticide run-off by 28 percent since 2008—and therefore, the reef doesn’t need to be added to the World Heritage Site in Danger list. They also claim that the proposed port development and dredge-spoil dumping is not a threat to the reef. Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Following Oceana’s newly released report on the harmful impacts of illegal fishing, one of the questions that I as Oceana's Northeast representative was asked most often was, “Where is this happening?” The short answer: Illegal fishing happens everywhere, from the most distant waters near Antarctica to just off the U.S. coast.
As shark week comes to a close, we thought we’d hit you with the good stuff: numbers. Here are some of the most revealing statistics about sharks that we could find:
400 million: Approximate number of years that sharks have been on planet Earth.
50: Number of shark species that are listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of threatened species
138,894: Number of people in the U.S. who suffered ladder-related injuries in 1996.
13: Number who suffered shark-related injuries in the U.S. in 1996.
22 million: Amount, in pounds, of shark fins that were imported into Hong Kong in 2008, making it the world’s largest single market for the product.