Shark Education

07
Jul

Shark Education:

Written by United Conservationists.

WHAT IS SHARK FINNING?

 

  • Shark finning refers to when a shark is caught, its fins are cut off and the body is thrown back into the sea, often while the shark is alive. Unable to swim the shark slowly sinks toward the bottom where it suffocates or is eaten alive by other fish.
  • Shark finning takes place at sea, so only the fins have to be transported back to land. Shark meat is considered low value and therefore not worth the cost of transporting the bulky shark bodies to market.
  • Any shark is taken-regardless of age, size, or species.
  • Longlines, used in shark finning operations, are the most significant cause of losses in shark populations worldwide. The lines can be longer than the distance to the moon and contain tens of thousands of baited hooks. Longlines kill marine life indiscriminately including non targeted species such as turtles and albatrosses.
  • Shark finning is widespread, and largely unmanaged and unmonitored despite over 90 countries having bans or restrictions against finning. Only a few countries demand that sharks arrive in port with fins attached.
  • Shark finning has increased over the past decade due to the increasing consumer demand for shark fins (most commonly for shark fin soup), improved fishing technology and market economics have also raised the supply and demand for fins.
  • One pound of dried shark fin can retail for $300 or more. It's a multi-billion dollar industry that runs rampant with corruption.
  • The IUCN reports “Every year 100 million sharks and related species are caught in fisheries. Some species have been reduced by more than 80% over recent years, and many are on the brink of extinction" 
  • Shark finning violates the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and is contrary to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's International Plan for the Conservation and Management of Sharks.
  • The United Nations Convention on the Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) lists the whale shark, basking shark, and great white shark as species that could become threatened if trade is not controlled. To date, 175 countries have agreed to be legally bound by CITES [http://www.cites.org/].

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • In 2008, only four people out of the 6.5 billion people worldwide died as the result of a shark bite. During that same year, 793 people died due to bicycle accidents and 49 died due to dog bites.
  • Of the more than 500 species of sharks in the world, only 10 species have been reported to have bitten humans.
  • Certain energy drinks, pet supplements, vitamins, lotions, dog chew toys, and even lipsticks - to name but a few - are all known to contain shark products. Shark is often mislabeled as other, more appealing fish (Squalene/Squalane).
  • Sharks can produce more revenue alive than dead. Studies have proven a single Ragged Tooth shark can earn tens of thousands in tourism dollars over its lifetime – versus the approximate $90 USD a fisherman is paid for a dead shark.
  • Sharks are increasingly important to eco-tourism and can bring in millions of dollars over their lifetime in diving tourism. In fact, the cage diving industry in South Africa alone earns over $500,000 USD per year in revenue.
  • The largest shark is the Whale Shark, which can grow to be 15 m long. The Great White shark grows to less than half that size at 6.4 m
  • The smallest shark is a deepwater Dogfish shark. Found in the Caribbean Sea, this species is mature at under 20cm.
  • The fastest swimming sharks are the Mako sharks and Blue sharks, which can leap out of the water. They might also be the fastest fish. Estimates of their speed vary between 97 kph and 35 kph
  • Sharks have an excellent sense of hearing with ears located inside their heads on both sides. Sharks can hear best at frequencies below 1,000 Hertz which is the range of most natural aquatic sounds. This sense of hearing helps shark locate potential prey swimming and splashing in the water. Sharks also use their lateral line system to pick up vibrations and sounds.

MYTHBUSTING

 

MYTH: Sharks have poor vision

Not True! Sharks’ eyes, which are equipped to distinguish colours, employ a lens up to seven times as powerful as a human's. Some shark species can detect a light that is as much as ten times dimmer than the dimmest light the average person can see. Vision varies among species of sharks due to differences in the size, focusing ability, and strength of the eyes

 

MYTH: Most sharks are harmful to people

Untrue! Of the more then 375 shark species, about 80% are unable to hurt people or rarely encounter people.

 

MYTH: Consuming shark fins makes people strong and healthy.

Wrong! There is no scientific evidence showing that eating shark fin or shark meat has any health benefits. In fact, sharks contain high levels of mercury – toxic to humans. Sharks also get cancer!

 

MYTH: Sharks have peanut-sized brains.

No way! Sharks' relatively large and complex brains are comparable in size to those of advanced animals like mammals and birds. Sharks can be trained.

 

MYTH: All sharks have to swim constantly

Not accurate! It was once believed that all sharks had to swim constantly in order to breathe and could not sleep for more than a few minutes at a time. Oxygen-rich water flows through the gills during movement allowing the shark to breathe. While some species of sharks do need to swim constantly, this is not true for all sharks. Some sharks such as the nurse shark have spiracles that force water across their gills allowing for stationary rest.

 

MYTH: Most sharks cruise at high speed when they swim

Invalid! Most sharks swim very slowly at cruising speeds of less than 5 knots (10 km per hour).

 

MYTH: Sharks are not found in freshwater

No! A specialized system enables the bull shark to cope with dramatic changes in salinity—from the freshwaters of some rivers to the highly saline waters of the ocean.

 

MYTH: Sharks eat continuously

Preposterous! Sharks eat periodically depending upon their metabolism and the availability of food. For example, juvenile lemon sharks eat less than two percent of their body weight per day.

 

MYTH: Sharks are will eat anything

Wrong! Most sharks prefer to eat certain types of invertebrates, fish and other animals. Some sharks eat mainly fish. Others eat other sharks or marine mammals. Some sharks are even plankton-eaters.

 

TRUTH: The biggest enemies to sharks are humans

Absolutely! That’s why humans must now do all they can to preserve them.

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