Friday, June 24, 2011

Shark--preditor or victim?

After the popular 1970s movie Jaws came out I was even petrified to swim in a pool. The fear of sharks has stuck with me over the years and now, as a surfer, I often think about the "man in the grey suit" lurking below the sea's surface. But then I think, I am entering the shark's home. He has been kind enough to share it with me. I do think humans' general fear of sharks may be justified  in part, but just think about how many people are actually killed by sharks a year (less than a handful) compared to how many die of starvation a year (8 million around the globe).
In 2000, the year with the most recorded shark attacks, there were 79 shark attacks reported worldwide, 11 of them fatal. Ironically, the biggest threat to sharks is humans -- about 100 million sharks are killed every year by humans. Many of them are killed for the lucrative shark finning industry, which often illegally kills sharks  for their fins . These finners cut off the shark fins and then throw them back in the ocean to die. I recently watched an amazingly powerful film, Sharkwater, that shows the intense journey of a group of brave souls who try to save these sharks and  expose the shark finning industry.  While shark finning is illegal in some waters, there are no governments, including the United States, that have agencies enforcing these important laws. The reality is that sharks may be the world's top predators, but they are critical to the survival of the ocean's ecosystem, and ultimately our livelihoods. I highly recommend you see this film. It will change your view  on sharks and may even compel you to do something to stop the mass killing of these beautiful, powerful creatures of the sea. The ocean is not a free-for-all for us to drain all of its resources.
Here's a link to the Sharkwater website:
Check out the Sharkwater trailer: