Shark species worldwide are dwindling in the face of heavy fishing pressures; sharks are killed for their meat and fins, which are used in highly controversial shark-fin soup. Sharks are also accidentally caught and killed in the course of fishing operations targeting other species. Experts consider fishing the greatest threat to all sharks.
Recently, In response to a 2011 petition by WildEarth Guardians and Friends of Animals, the National Marine Fisheries Service (Fisheries Service) listed four populations of scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because of severe threats posed by human exploitation.
Most sharks, including the scalloped hammerhead, play an important role in maintaining oceanic ecosystems as apex carnivores. Ecosystem stability and biodiversity, main goals of the ESA, can seriously suffer from the removal of a top predator.
You can help us protect sharks by becoming a member with us today. Your donation will help assist our Wildlife Law Program with passing more legal protections for sharks under the endangered species act.
Check out these top 10 facts we compiled from Shark Guardians:
1. While the word “shark” may conjure up images of great whites and hammerheads, there are at least 500 shark species (perhaps even more) roaming the world’s oceans today. They vary in size and even shape, but they all tend to share similar body characteristics like large livers, flexible cartilaginous skeletons and enhanced sensory systems.
2. As sensational as shark attacks are in newspaper headlines, the reality is that you’re more likely to be bitten by another person than a shark.
3. Overfishing can have a dangerous effect on sharks. The whale shark, for example, has to live to be 30 years old before it can reproduce, and its life span lasts between 60 and 100 years. As a result, it can’t reproduce fast enough to keep up with fishing demand.
4. Sharks may seem like a permanent part of the ocean, but according to the World Conservation Union, 20-30 percent of sharks are close to extinction. The main culprit? Commercial fisheries accidentally catching sharks on their hooks and nets.
5. Great white sharks eat 11 tons of food a year! Compare that to a human being: Each of us eats closer to half a ton of food every year.
6. Whale sharks are the world’s biggest shark — and they have big families, too. One whale shark can give birth to 2-12 live shark pups in one litter although she may stay with about 300 eggs.
7. Most sharks live in saltwater, so how do river sharks survive in freshwater? They take in extra water and then urinate into the stream around them, at a rate over 20 times faster than the average saltwater shark.
8. What’s older than sharks? Almost nothing. Sharks have been swimming in the ocean for more than 400 million years. They predate practically everything that has a spine, including humans and dinosaurs.
9. Sound waves travel fast and far in water, so sharks have no trouble picking up low-pitched noises from movements such as fish schools, swimmers and even Coast Guard helicopters flying low over the ocean.
10. Even though sharks have rows and rows of razor-sharp teeth, they don’t use their pearly whites to chew their prey. Shark teeth are strictly for snapping, grip, crush or rip, and the resulting chunks are swallowed whole.