Shark Population Nears Extinction

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Around 1% of fishes are the sharks – known to be predators and dangerous for they attack human beings.  For 400 million years sharks have been around and come in more than 300 different species. However, recent reports showed that almost one third of the shark population is near extinction due to exploitation.

For the past 50 years, there is a rising trend in the number of sharks caught globally.  One hundred million of this class of fish, also known as ancient predators, are estimated to be killed every year for commercial and recreational purposes.  If the mass slaughter of sharks continues, the marine ecosystem will suffer.

Why people catch sharks? In many places around the world, sharks are killed and the meat is used in making fish fillets while the fins are made into soup or used for traditional cures.  Sometimes, the sharks are captured live and only the fins are removed and their carcass thrown back into the water.  Called as shark finning, this process happens at sea and has been very popular due to the high demand for shark fins.  This practice has been exposing sharks to extinction and several countries are enacting regulations to prevent its occurrence.  Just recently, U.S President Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act which is aimed to stop this practice and save not only the sharks but also maintain balance in the ocean life.

Interesting facts about sharks:

  • A research conducted in the University of Western Australia revealed that some species of sharks may lack the ability to differentiate colors because their retinas contain only one cone photoreceptor compared to humans with three types of cones that are responsive to blue, red and green light.
  • Sharks live between 20-30 years, but some species have a lifespan of 100 years or more.  Some studies also indicated that their intelligence is characterised by powerful skills in social and problem-solving. They are curious, playful and can be trained – given the fact that their brain to body mass ratio has similarities to birds and mammals.

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